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High level of IL-27 positively correlated with Th17 cells may indicate liver injury in patients infected with HBV

Authors

  • Geng-Lin Zhang,

    1. Department of Infectious Diseases, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun-Yat-Sen University, GuangZhou, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Tropical Disease Control (Sun Yat-Sen University), Ministry of Education, Guangzhou, China
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.
  • Dong-Ying Xie,

    1. Department of Infectious Diseases, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun-Yat-Sen University, GuangZhou, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Tropical Disease Control (Sun Yat-Sen University), Ministry of Education, Guangzhou, China
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.
  • Yi-Nong Ye,

    1. Department of Infectious Diseases, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun-Yat-Sen University, GuangZhou, China
    2. Department of Infectious Diseases, Foshan Hospital of Sun-Yat-Sen University, Foshan, China
    3. Key Laboratory of Tropical Disease Control (Sun Yat-Sen University), Ministry of Education, Guangzhou, China
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.
  • Chao-Shuang Lin,

    1. Department of Infectious Diseases, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun-Yat-Sen University, GuangZhou, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Tropical Disease Control (Sun Yat-Sen University), Ministry of Education, Guangzhou, China
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  • Xiao-Hong Zhang,

    1. Department of Infectious Diseases, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun-Yat-Sen University, GuangZhou, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Tropical Disease Control (Sun Yat-Sen University), Ministry of Education, Guangzhou, China
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  • Yu-Bao Zheng,

    1. Department of Infectious Diseases, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun-Yat-Sen University, GuangZhou, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Tropical Disease Control (Sun Yat-Sen University), Ministry of Education, Guangzhou, China
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  • Zhan-Lian Huang,

    1. Department of Infectious Diseases, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun-Yat-Sen University, GuangZhou, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Tropical Disease Control (Sun Yat-Sen University), Ministry of Education, Guangzhou, China
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  • Liang Peng,

    1. Department of Infectious Diseases, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun-Yat-Sen University, GuangZhou, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Tropical Disease Control (Sun Yat-Sen University), Ministry of Education, Guangzhou, China
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  • Zhi-Liang Gao

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Infectious Diseases, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun-Yat-Sen University, GuangZhou, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Tropical Disease Control (Sun Yat-Sen University), Ministry of Education, Guangzhou, China
    • Correspondence

      Zhi-Liang Gao, MD, PhD, Department of Infectious Diseases, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun-Yat-Sen University, GuangZhou 510630, China

      Tel: +86 20 85252373

      Fax: +86 20 85252250

      e-mail: zhilianggao@21cn.com

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Abstract

Background

Interleukin-6/IL-12 family cytokines play a key role in inflammatory diseases via their effects on the differentiation or regulation of T helper cells.

Aims

The aim of this study was to determine the role of interleukin-27 (IL-27) and its association with helper T cells in hepatitis B virus (HBV)-infected patients.

Methods

Samples were assessed from 51 HBV-infected patients [28 chronic hepatitis B (CHB) subjects and 23 acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) subjects] and 18 normal controls (NC). Serum IL-27 levels were examined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Circulating helper T cells were determined using flow cytometry and associations between IL-27 expression and helper T cells were analysed.

Results

Serum IL-27 levels rose in HBV-infected patients (502.88 ± 23.35 pg/ml) compared to (NC, 277.14 ± 23.96 pg/ml, P < 0.0001). Furthermore, it significantly increased in patients with ACLF (587.90 ± 33.08 pg/ml) when compared with CHB (433.04 ± 26.57 pg/ml, P = 0.001). However, no statistically significant differences were observed between IL-27 and the presence of HBeAg. High levels of IL-27 then positively correlated with Tbil levels (r = 0.401, = 0.004), but negatively associated with prothrombin time activity levels (r = −0.496, < 0.001), and a slightly negative correlation trend with HBV-DNA loads (r = −0.228, = 0.107) existed in these HBV-infected subjects. Additionally, frequency of circulating interleukin-17-producing CD4+T cells (Th17 cells) increased in HBV-infected patients (ACLF, mean, 5.39%; CHB, median, 3.12%) as compared to NC subjects (median, 2.22%, < 0.0001). Moreover, correlation analysis showed that serum IL-27 level was positively associated with circulating Th17 cells (r = 0.342, = 0.036).

Conclusion

These results provided evidence that IL-27 was positively correlated with Th17 cells commitment, and may exerted a proinflammatory effect in the development of liver injury in HBV-infected patients.

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