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Reuters Health Information (2003-12-26): Intrahepatic CD8 cells predict antiviral response in chronic HCV infection


Intrahepatic CD8 cells predict antiviral response in chronic HCV infection

Last Updated: 2003-12-26 7:30:40 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In a study of 17 patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, pretreatment intrahepatic CD8+ cell counts correlated with virological response to interferon-alpha-ribavirin therapy.

According to Dr. Jan M. Vrolijk and colleagues from Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, the number of intrahepatic CD8+ cells present in the portal tract before the start of IFN-ribavirin was significantly higher in patients who responded to antiviral treatment than in those that did not (p = 0.002).

"The number of CD8+ cells in the portal tract alone predicts response better than do viral and demographic characteristics," they write in The Journal of Infectious Diseases for November 15th.

There was no correlation between response to treatment and other T cell subsets including CD4+ and CD68+ cells. Peripheral cytokine levels and HCV-specific T cell reactivity in peripheral blood mononuclear cells also bore no relationship to antiviral response.

Dr. Vrolijk's team writes that "intrahepatic localization of HCV-specific T cells may be crucial for controlling acute HCV infection but it may also augment inhibition of viral replication and clearance of infected hepatocytes when patients with chronic HCV infection are treated with IFN-ribavirin."

"We observed that the numbers of CD8 cells in the liver of HCV patients before antiviral therapy is initiated indeed is correlated with the response to interferon-alpha ribavirin therapy," co-author Dr. Bart Haagmans told Reuters Health. "Thus, some of the variation we see in the response to antiviral therapy in individual patients may be determined by the intrahepatic immune status."

The group concludes that the findings "should encourage further study of hepatic immune cells as important predictive factors."

J Infect Dis 2003;188:1528-1532.

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