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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The balance between intrahepatic IL-17+ T cells and Foxp3+ regulatory T cells plays an important role in HBV-related end-stage liver disease

Yinghua Niu1, Hongli Liu1, Donglin Yin2, Ruitian Yi2, Tianyan Chen1, Hong'an Xue3, Shulin Zhang1, Shumei Lin1 and Yingren Zhao1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Infectious Diseases, First Affiliated Hospital of Medical College, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Shaanxi Province, China

2 Medical College, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Shaanxi Province, China

3 Department of Infectious Diseases, Second Affiliated Hospital of Medical College, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Shaanxi Province, China

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BMC Immunology 2011, 12:47  doi:10.1186/1471-2172-12-47

Published: 19 August 2011

Abstract

Backgroud

IL-17+ T helper cells and Foxp3+ regulatory T cells are CD4+ T helper cells with reciprocally regulated differentiation and function. Their frequency and function vary in patients with chronic hepatitis B. In this study, we investigated the balance between IL-17+ T cells and Foxp3+ regulatory T cells and illustrated their function in the aggravation of chronic hepatitis B (CHB).

Results

Twenty-six patients with chronic HBV -related liver failure (CLF), thirty-one patients with acute on chronic HBV-related liver failure (ACLF) and twelve normal controls were enrolled in our study. The expressions of IL-17, Foxp3, CD4, CD8 and perforin in liver tissue were measured by immunochemistry for the evaluation of liver-infiltrating lymphocytes. The frequency of liver IL-17+ T cells on liver inflammatory cells and their proportion in the total CD4+ T cell population increased markedly in the ACLF group, while the frquency of Foxp3+ T cells and their proportion in the total CD4+ T cell population did not show a significant difference in the two HBV infection groups. In addition, the ACLF group showed a dramatically higher IL-17+ /Foxp3+ ratio than the CLF group. CD4+ T cells increased significantly in the liver of patients with ACLF, compared with those in the liver of patients with CLF.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that intrahepatic IL-17+ T cells play an important role in the development of chronic HBV and that the imbalance between IL-17+ and Foxp3+ T cells in the liver may lead to progression of the disease but the mechanism should be further explored.