Background: Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is an autoimmune liver disease characterized by the destruction of intrahepatic small bile ducts. It is generally believed that cellular immune mechanisms, particularly T cells, cause this bile duct damage. CD30, which is inducible on selected T cells following activation, is regarded as important for B cell hyperactivity in several autoimmune diseases. In this study, we have attempted to examine CD30-expressing lymphocytes in PBC with respect to B cell hyperactivity.
Methods: We surveyed and counted CD30+ lymphocytes in liver sections from 13 patients with PBC and 36 control livers, including chronic viral hepatitis, extrahepatic biliary obstruction and normal liver by immunohistochemical staining.
Results: Several CD30+ lymphocytes were localized in inflamed portal tracts and also accentuated around the bile ducts in PBC livers, but they were rarely detected in control liver sections. The numbers of CD30+ lymphocytes in PBC were significantly higher than in control groups (P<0.01). Double immunohistochemical staining revealed that these CD30+ lymphocytes expressed CD3 as well as CD4. The number of CD30+ lymphocytes, moreover, correlated with that of immunoglobulin (Ig)A-containing cells (r=0.72) in PBC, although no such correlation between CD30+ lymphocytes and IgM or IgG-containing cells was obtained.
Conclusions: These findings indicate that intrahepatic CD30+ lymphocytes have a role in IgA type, B cell abnormal hyperactivity with respect to the pathogenesis of portal tract and bile duct lesions in PBC.