Characterization of Virus-Specific T-Cell Immunity in Liver Allograft Recipients with HCV-Induced Cirrhosis


* Corresponding author: Thalachllour Mohanakumar, .


Recurrent hepatitis C infection (HCV) following liver transplantation causes accelerated allograft cirrhosis. Here we characterized HCV-specific immunity in adult liver transplant recipients (n = 74) with and without allograft cirrhosis. Patients were divided into hepatic inflammation/no cirrhosis (METAVIR scores 0–2, HIN) and hepatic cirrhosis (score 3–4, HFC). As control, 20 normal subjects and 10 non-HCV liver transplant patients were included. Twenty-five different serum cytokines were analyzed using LUMINEX. Frequency of T-cells specific to HCV-derived proteins (NS3, NS4, NS5, Core) was characterized using ELISPOT immunoassays. There was no difference in clinical characteristics between HIN (n = 49) and HFC (n = 25) groups. HIN group had high serum IFN-γ and IL-12 while HFC demonstrated elevated IL-4, IL-5 and IL-10 (p < 0.01). HCV (NS3, NS4, NS5, Core)-specific IFN-γ-producing CD4+ T-cells were elevated in the HIN group whereas the HFC patients showed predominance of HCV-specific IL-5 and IL-10-producing CD4+ T-cells. Conclusions: Lack of HCV-specific Th1-type T-cell immunity is observed in liver transplant recipients with advanced allograft cirrhosis.