• chronic active hepatitis;
  • liver;
  • lymphocyte subsets;
  • monoclonal antibodies

ABSTRACT— The relative distribution of T lymphocyte subsets, as defined by the monoclonal antibodies OKT, was determined by cytofluorimetric analysis in peripheral blood and in cells isolated from liver biopsies of 31 patients with chronic active hepatitis (CAH). The percentage of peripheral blood lymphocytes binding OKT8 (directed against cytotoxic/suppressor T cells) was found to be elevated in patients with HBsAg and HBeAg positive chronic active hepatitis. Patients with CAH who had seroconverted to anti-HBe, had an increased number of OKT3-positive cells in their blood, which was directed against a common T cell surface antigen, associated with a decreased number of OKT8 positive cells. Lymphocytes isolated from liver biopsies of patients with CAH presented a general increase of OKT8-positive cells associated with a decreased number of OKT4-positive (helper/inducer) T cells. It is likely that OKT8-positive cells found in liver biopsies represent cytotoxic T cells directed against either viral or liver cell determinants.