1B), although the frequencies of HBcAg-specific IL-21-producing CD4+ T cells were slight higher in IA group than that in IHC group. The findings were also verified by IL-21 ELISA, in which PBMCs from 5 AHB patients produced greater production
of IL-21 in response to HBcAg in culture, compared with that from 8 IHC patients or 14 IA patients (Fig. 2). Chronic hepatitis B patients selleck chemical at inactive stage had plasma virus <1000 copies/ml, and IA CHB patients often had higher viral load. In this study, we found there was a significant negative correlation between HBV DNA levels and IL-21-producing CD4+ T cell response to HBcAg in CHB patients at IA stage (R2 = 0.410, P = 0.001, Fig. 3A). In contrast, the frequency of IL-21-producing CD4+ T cells to HBcAg was not correlated with the levels of ALT (R2 = 0.023, P = 0.474) as shown in Fig. 3B. Given the above association between selleck screening library IL-21 production by HBcAg-specific CD4+ T cells and HBV virus load in IA patients, we next evaluated whether HBV-specific IL-21+ CD4+ T cells might correlate with HBV-specific CD8+ T cell response. Following HLA-A2 genotype screening, we detected IFN-γ-producing CD8+ T cells of PBMCs stimulated with HBc 18-27 peptide for 24 h by ELISPOT in 14 IA CHB patients. The data showed that HBV-specific IL-21+ CD4+ T cells positively
correlate with HBc 18-27-specific IFN-γ-producing CD8+ T cells in IA patients (Fig. 3C). To determine whether IL-21 could affect the frequency of HBc 18-27-specific CD8+ T cells from CHB patients, we compared the frequency of HBc 18-27-specific CD8+ T cells in PBMCs with or without IL-21 stimulation. The data showed that ex vivo HBc 18-27-specific CD8+ T cells from CHB patients could be easily sustained and survived if cocultured with IL-21, and the frequency of HBc 18-27-specific CD8+ T cells was similar to that with IL-2 stimulation Carbohydrate (Fig. 4A). Next, to determine
whether IL-21 secretion by HBV-specific CD4+ T cells could directly improve the antiviral function of CD8+ T cells through IL-21 signal, we depleted CD8+ T cells of PBMCs from 7 AHB patients with strong IL-21 responses and then stimulate the CD8+ T cell-deleted PBMCs with HBcAg for 1 h. After complete removal of the remaining antigen, we added the HBcAg-stimulated CD8+ T cell-deleted PBMCs from each individual in the bottom chamber of a transwell plate. The isolated CD8+ T cell from PBMCs of IA patient was placed in the upper chamber. After co-incultured for 12 h, it was similar to additional rIL-21-induced IFN-γ mRNA and perforin mRNA expression of CD8+ T cells, which the HBcAg-pulsed CD8-deleted PBMCs of AHB patients induced markedly increased IFN-γ mRNA and perforin mRNA expression in the CD8+ T cells (Fig. 4B), although the levels of IFN-γ mRNA and perforin mRNA expression of CD8+ T cells were lower in HBcAg-pulsed CD8 deleted PBMCs than in CD4-CD8 T cell-deleted PBMCs plus rIL-21.