Different cytokine profiles of intraphepatic T cells in chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus infections

Gastroenterology. 1997 Jan;112(1):193-9. doi: 10.1016/s0016-5085(97)70235-x.


Background & aims: The cytokine pattern secreted by T cells at the site of viral replication may influence the final outcome of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. The aim of this study was to assess whether a cytokine imbalance oriented toward T helper (Th) 1 or Th2-type responses may play a role in chronic hepatitis B or C.

Methods: Production of interferon (IFN)-gamma, interleukin (IL)-4, and IL-5 by wide series of T-cell clones derived from the liver of 6 patients with chronic hepatitis B (291 clones) and 9 patients with chronic hepatitis C (260 clones) was studied. T-cell clones were generated by limiting dilution from freshly isolated mononuclear cells derived from liver tissue to give a reliable representation of the intrahepatic inflammatory infiltrates.

Results: The majority of liver-infiltrating T cells in chronic hepatitis C were Th1 cells able to secrete IFN-gamma but unable to secrete IL-4 or IL-5, whereas in hepatitis B, most CD4+ and CD8+ liver T cells were ThO-like cells able to produce not only IFN-gamma but also IL-4 and IL-5.

Conclusions: The different cytokine profiles of T cells within the liver in chronic HBV and HCV infections illustrate a different behavior of the local immune response in these two infections that may have pathogenetic implications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers
  • CD4-CD8 Ratio
  • Female
  • Hepatitis B / immunology*
  • Hepatitis C / immunology*
  • Hepatitis, Chronic / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism*
  • Interleukins / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*


  • Biomarkers
  • Interleukins
  • Interferon-gamma