PD-1 upregulation is associated with HBV-specific T cell dysfunction in chronic hepatitis B patients

Guoping Peng, Shuping Li, Wei Wu, Xufei Tan, Yiqiong Chen, Zhi Chen
Molecular Immunology 2008, 45 (4): 963-70
Programmed death-1 (PD-1) is demonstrated to have an increased expression on antigen-specific T cells during chronic virus infections, and the blockage of PD-1/PD-ligand (PD-L1) pathway could restore the function of exhausted T cells. We measured the PD-1 expression levels on HBV-specific CD8 T cells and investigated the role of PD-1/PD-L1 pathway in T-cell responses of patients with different HBV infection statuses. Compared to the patients with convalescent acute hepatitis B, PD-1 expression on total CD8 T cells from chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients was significantly upregulated, especially on the HBV pentamer-positive CD8 T cells. And PD-L1, but not PD-L2, was also significantly upregulated on PBMC from CHB patients. In CHB patients, HBV-specific T cells and cellular proliferation could be observed under the recombinant HBV-Ag stimulation in vitro, and blockade of PD-1 pathway significantly enhanced the IFN-gamma production and cellular proliferation of PBMC. Furthermore, PD-1 expression level on HBV-pentamers positive CD8 T cells was positively associated with plasma viral load in CHB patients. Thus, PD-1 upregulation on HBV-specific CD8 T cells is engaged in the dysfunction of T cells and high viraemia in CHB patients, and the antiviral T-cell responses could be improved by the blockade of this inhibitory PD-1/PD-L1 pathway.

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