Hepatic natural killer and natural killer T cells markedly decreased in two cases of drug-induced fulminant hepatic failure rescued by living donor liver transplantation


Dr Takafumi Ichida, Department of Gastroenterology, Juntendo University School of Medicine, Shizuoka Hospital, 1129 Nagaoka, Izunokuni City, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan 410-2295. Email: takafumi@air.ocn.ne.jp


Abstract  The human liver contains significant numbers of innate immune cells, such as natural killer (NK) cells and natural killer T (NKT) cells, which express both T-cell receptors and NK-cell receptors simultaneously. It has been suggested that the innate immune system plays a crucial role in the liver. In this report, the distribution of NK and NKT cells in the liver and peripheral blood of two patients with drug-induced fulminant hepatic failure (FHF) who had undergone living donor liver transplantation was examined. In both the liver and peripheral blood, the proportions of NK and NKT cells markedly decreased compared with those in healthy donors. It was also revealed that, unlike murine NKT cells, human CD56+ T cells and CD57+ T cells did not constitutively express CD28, which is one of the important costimulatory molecules on T cells. Additionally, the residual CD56+ T cells and CD57+ T cells in the patients expressed more CD28 than in controls. This result suggests that NKT cells might be more activated in FHF. Although the accumulation of further cases is required, it is suggested that both NK and NKT cells might be involved in hepatic injury in FHF.