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Research Article

Cell-mediated immunity in acute and chronic hepatitis.

J R Wands, J L Perrotto, E Alpert and K J Isselbacher

Published May 1975

Peripheral lymphocytes from patients with hepatitis-B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive and -negative acute hepatitis (AH), chronic active hepatitis (CAH), chronic persistent hepatitis (CPH), and normal controls were tested for in vitro cytotoxicity and blast transformation. Cytotoxicity was measured by chrominum (21Cr) release into the medium from 51Cr-labeled Chang liver cells after incubation for 6 h with peripheral lymphocytes at a lymphocyte target cell ratio of 200:1. Concomitant 72-h incubation studies were performed to assess thymus cell-dependent (T) lymphocyte function as measured by conccanavalin A (Con A)- stimulated incorporation of tritiated thymidine (blast transformation) and by cytotoxicity. It was found that (a) lymphocytes from patients with AH are cytotoxic to Chang liver cells compared to controls (P less than 0.001); (b) lymphocytes from patients with acute and chronic hepatitis are less cytotoxic when incubated with autologous and homologous HB2Ag-positive and -negative AH, CAH, and CPH are as cytotoxic as normal controls when stimulated with a nonspecific mitogen such as Con A; and (d) lymphocytes from patients with CAH while on prednisone therapy showed marked depression of cytotoxicity when stimulated with Con A. Thus these studies show that patients with AH have circulating T lymphocytes which are capable of causing the destruction of Chang liver cells. There is no defect in T-cell function as measured by Con A-stimulated cytotoxicity. There is a serum factor (s) in patients with acute and chronic hepatitis which inhibits spontaneous and induced lymphocyte cytotoxicity and blast transformation. Finally, prednisone treatment appears to inhibit lymphocyte cytotoxicity in patients with CAH.

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