Regulatory T cells inhibit Th1 cell-mediated bile duct injury in murine biliary atresia

J Hepatol. 2013 Oct;59(4):790-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2013.05.010. Epub 2013 May 14.


Background & aims: Biliary atresia (BA) is a pediatric inflammatory disease of the biliary system which leads to cirrhosis and the need for liver transplantation. One theory regarding etiology is that bile duct injury is due to virus-induced autoreactive T cell-mediated inflammation. Regulatory T cell (Treg) abnormalities in BA could result in unchecked bystander inflammation and autoimmunity targeting bile ducts. The aim of this study was to determine if Tregs are dysfunctional in the rotavirus-induced mouse model of BA (murine BA).

Methods: Murine BA resulted from infection of BALB/c neonates with Rhesus rotavirus (RRV).

Results: Liver Tregs from BA mice were decreased in number, activation marker expression, and suppressive function. Adoptive transfer studies revealed that RRV-infected mice that received Tregs had significantly increased survival (84%) compared to controls (12.5%). In addition, ablation of Tregs in older mice, followed by RRV infection, resulted in increased bile duct injury.

Conclusions: These studies demonstrate that dysregulation of Tregs is present in murine BA and that diminished Treg function may be implicated in the pathogenesis of human BA.

Keywords: APCs; BA; Biliary atresia; Murine autoimmunity; RRV; Regulatory T cells; Rhesus rotavirus; Tregs; antigen presenting cells.; biliary atresia; regulatory T cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adoptive Transfer
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Bile Ducts / immunology
  • Bile Ducts / injuries
  • Bile Ducts / pathology
  • Biliary Atresia / etiology*
  • Biliary Atresia / immunology*
  • Biliary Atresia / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Depletion
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Pregnancy
  • Rotavirus Infections / complications
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / pathology
  • Th1 Cells / immunology*
  • Th1 Cells / pathology