Intrahepatic PD-1/PD-L1 up-regulation closely correlates with inflammation and virus replication in patients with chronic HBV infection

Zhunyi Xie, Yongwen Chen, Songtao Zhao, Zhiqing Yang, Xiaohong Yao, Sheng Guo, Chengying Yang, Lei Fei, Xingguang Zeng, Bing Ni, Yuzhang Wu
Immunological Investigations 2009, 38 (7): 624-38
Chronic hepatitis B was characterized by fluctuant immune response to infected hepatocytes resulting in hepatic inflammation and virus persistence. Recently, Programmed Death-1 (PD-1) and its ligand PD-L1 have been demonstrated to play an essential role in balancing antiviral immunity and inflammation in the livers of acute hepatitis B patients, significantly influencing disease outcome. PD-1 up-regulation in peripheral T cells is associated with immune dysfunction in chronic hepatitis B patients. However, the effect of PD-1/PD-L1 on hepatic damage and chronic infective status is still unknown in patients with chronic HBV infection. Here, we report up-regulation of PD-1 and PD-L1 in liver biopsies from 32 chronic HBV patients compared to 4 healthy donors. PD-1/PD-L1 up-regulation was significantly associated with hepatic inflammation and ALT elevation. Moreover, appropriate up-regulation but not overexpression of PD-L1 in the active phase of chronic hepatitis B as well as lower expression of PD-L1 in the inactive phase in liver residential antigen presenting cells (including Kupffer cells and sinusoidal endothelial cells) may contribute to viral inhibition. Our data suggest that the intrahepatic interaction of PD-1 and PD-L1 might play an important role in balancing the immune response to HBV and immune-mediated liver damage in chronic HBV infection.

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