Published online Apr 28, 2006. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v12.i16.2523
Revised: July 28, 2005
Accepted: August 3, 2005
Published online: April 28, 2006
AIM: Although the pathogenic mechanism underlying autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) remains unclear, the immune system is thought to be critical for the progression of the disease. Cellular immune responses may be linked to the hepatocellular damage in AIH. Recently, much attention has been focused on the critical functions of costimulatory molecules expressed on mononuclear cells in the generation of effective T cell-mediated immune responses. Analysis of costimulatory molecule expressed on mononuclear cells from the patients with AIH may give us insight into the pathogenic mechanism of hepatocellular damage in AIH.
METHODS: Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were taken from the patients with AIH (34 cases) and healthy controls (25 cases). Liver infiltrating mononuclear cells (LIMCs) were taken from the patients with AIH (18 cases), the patient with chronic hepatitis C (CH-C) (13 cases) and the patients with fatty liver (2 cases). Using flow cytometry, the cells were analyzed for the expression of costimulatory molecules, such as CD80, CD86, and CD152 (CTLA-4). The results were compared with clinical data such as the level of gammaglobulin, histological grade, presence or absence of corticosteroids administration and the response to corticosteroids.
RESULTS: The levels of CD80+, CD86+ and CD152+ PBMC were significantly reduced in the patients with AIH as compared with healthy controls. By contrast, those cells were significantly higher in LIMC than in PBMC of the patients with AIH. Especially, the level of CD86+ LIMC showed a marked increase irrespective of the degree of disease activity in the patients with AIH, although CD86+ cells were rarely present in PBMC. The levels of CD86+ cells were present in significantly higher frequency in patients with AIH than in the patients with CH-C. Furthermore, the patients with AIH with high levels of CD86+ LIMC showed good responses to corticosteroids, whereas 2 cases of AIH with low levels of CD86+ LIMC did not respond well.
CONCLUSION: These results suggest that LIMC over-expressing costimulatory molecules such as CD80 and CD86 appears to play a role in the pathogenesis of AIH. Especially, CD86 molecule expressed on the LIMC may be useful for the diagnosis of AIH and for the prediction of the therapeutic effects of corticosteroids on AIH.