Conventional and innate lymphocytes response at the acute phase of HEV infection in transplanted patients

J Infect. 2016 Jun;72(6):723-730. doi: 10.1016/j.jinf.2016.02.016. Epub 2016 Mar 4.


Objectives: The hepatitis E virus (HEV) causes usually benign and spontaneously resolving acute hepatitis in immunocompetent individuals. In immunocompromised patients with a solid-organ transplant (SOT), chronic infections occur in about 2/3 of cases. We aimed to evaluate the immune cells implicated at the acute phase of HEV infection.

Methods: We studied the activation and memory markers on CD4, CD8, γδ and NK cells in 32 HEV-free control SOT patients and 23 SOT recipients, including 14 who became chronically infected. Samples from 7 immunocompetent individuals with an acute infection and 8 healthy donor samples were included for comparison.

Results: In acutely-infected SOT patients, NK and Vδ2 cells, but not other γδ cells, had an increased expression of CD69. Based on CD45RA/CD27 markers, solid-organ recipients infected with HEV contained a larger pool of circulating naive subsets among lymphocyte Tγδ cells. However, these alterations of Vδ2 cells were not associated with HEV clearance. Only the adaptive IFN-γ responses to HEV peptides, determined by ELISpot, were associated with a favorable outcome in immunocompromised patients.

Conclusions: Transplanted patients mobilized their γδ cells at the acute phase of infection. Their precise role in HEV infection will thus deserve further investigations as they could be specifically immunomanipulated.

Keywords: Chronic viral hepatitis; Gamma-delta T cells; Hepatitis E virus; Solid organ transplantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens, CD / genetics
  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / genetics
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / immunology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Hepatitis E / immunology*
  • Hepatitis E virus / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Immunologic Memory
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Lectins, C-Type / genetics
  • Lectins, C-Type / immunology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Viral
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / immunology
  • Transplant Recipients*


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • CD69 antigen
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • RNA, Viral
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta