Reversal of nonstructural protein 3-specific CD4 + T cell dysfunction in patients with persistent hepatitis C virus infection

M. Bes, S. Sauleda, N. Casamitjana, M. Piron, I. Campos-Varela, J. Quer, M. Cubero, L. Puig, J. Guardia, J. I. Esteban

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Summary. Hepatitis C virus (HCV)-specific T cell responses are essential for HCV control, and chronic infection is characterized by functionally altered antigen-specific T cells. It has been proposed that the early inactivation of specific CD4 + T cell responses may be involved in establishment of HCV persistence. We have investigated whether HCV-specific CD4 + T cells dysfunction can be reversed in vitro. Nonstructural protein 3 (NS3) and core-specific CD4 + T cells from eight chronically infected and eight spontaneously resolved HCV individuals were selected through transient CD154 (CD40 ligand) expression, and their functional profile (IFN-I, IL-2, TNF-α, IL-10 and IL-4 production by enzyme-linked immunospot assay, cytometric bead array and intracellular cytokine staining, and proliferation by carboxy-fluorescein diacetate succinimidyl ester dilution assay) was determined both ex vivo and after in vitro expansion of sorted CD154-expressing cells in the absence of specific antigen in IL-7/IL-15-supplemented medium. Ex vivo bulk CD4 + T cells from chronic patients expressed CD154 in most cases, albeit at lower frequencies than those of resolved patients (0.11%vs 0.41%; P = 0.01), when stimulated with NS3, but not core, although they had a markedly impaired capacity to produce IL-2 and IFN-I. Antigen-free in vitro expansion of NS3-specific CD154 + cells from chronic patients restored IFN-I and IL-2 production and proliferation to levels similar to those of patients with spontaneously resolved infection. Hence, NS3-specific CD4 + T cell response can be rescued in most chronic HCV patients by in vitro expansion in the absence of HCV-specific antigen. These results might provide a rationale for adoptive immunotherapy. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Idioma originalInglés
Páginas (desde-hasta)283-294
PublicaciónJournal of Viral Hepatitis
EstadoPublicada - 1 abr 2012


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