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Keywords:

  • adoptive therapy;
  • chronic hepatitis B;
  • cytokine-induced killer cells;
  • hepatitis B virus;
  • myeloid dendritic cells;
  • plasmacytoid dendritic cells

Abstract

Background: Myeloid and plasmacytoid dendritic cells (mDCs, pDCs) are functionally impaired in patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB). Adoptive immunotherapy can suppress hepatitis B virus (HBV) replication in CHB patients, but whether it can restore the functionality of mDCs and pDCs remains unknown.

Methods: Autologous cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells obtained from 14 CHB patients were transfused back to patients, case by case, to observe the effect of CIK-cell treatment on the frequency and functionality of mDCs and pDCs in CHB patients during a 24-week follow-up investigation.

Results: Seven virological responders exhibited a sustained decrease in HBV load after CIK-cell transfusion; another seven non-virological responders showed only sustained high levels of HBV load during the 24-week period following CIK-cell transfusion. The rate of hepatitis B e antigen loss or seroconversion was also higher in virological responders than in non-virological responders. Importantly, we found that the frequency and cytokine-producing capacity of mDCs and pDCs increased significantly in virological responders, but not in non-virological responders. In addition, these patients exhibited a close correlation between restoration DC subsets and a decrease in HBV DNA load, rather than a change in the alanine aminotransferase level.

Conclusion: Cytokine-induced killer-cell treatment reduced HBV DNA load in some CHB patients; the efficiency at least partially correlates with the restoration of frequency and functionality of mDCs and pDCs.