To identify the capacity for cytokine production and the phenotypic characteristics of peripheral CD8+ T cells in patients with chronic hepatitis C, 31 patients with chronic hepatitis C and 22 healthy controls were studied at the single cell level by three-color flow cytometry. Whole blood was stained with surface CD8, intracellular interferon-γ (IFN-γ), and interleukin-4 (IL-4), surface CD8, CD28, and intracellular IFN-γ after stimulation with PMA plus ionomycin, and then surface CD8, CD45RA, and CD28. IFN-γ-producing peripheral CD8+ T cells were found frequently in patients than in controls (P<0.05), whereas IL-4-producing peripheral CD8+ T cells were not. Although the frequency of peripheral CD28+CD8+ and CD28-CD8+ T cells in patients was not different from that of controls, CD28+CD8+ T cells exceeded CD28-CD8+ T cells in the capacity for IFN-γ-production after mitogenic stimulation (P<0.01). In a more detailed analysis of the CD28+CD8+ T cells, CD45RA-CD28+CD8+ T cells, defined phenotypically as memory cells, were found frequently in patients than in controls (P<0.05). There were no significant correlations between the frequency of IFN-γ-producing peripheral CD8+ T cells and hepatitis C virus RNA level or serum alanine aminotransferase level in patients. These data suggest that functionally T cytotoxic type 1 and memory CD8+ T cells are predominant in the peripheral blood of chronic hepatitis C patients and that such activated CD8+ T cells are associated with liver damage.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases