Chinese Medical Journal (Jan 2017)

Ratios of T-helper 2 Cells to T-helper 1 Cells and Cytokine Levels in Patients with Hepatitis B

  • Ming-Hui Li,
  • Dan Zhang,
  • Lu Zhang,
  • Xiao-Jing Qu,
  • Yao Lu,
  • Ge Shen,
  • Shu-Ling Wu,
  • Min Chang,
  • Ru-Yu Liu,
  • Lei-Ping Hu,
  • Hong-Xiao Hao,
  • Wen-Hao Hua,
  • Shu-Jing Song,
  • Gang Wan,
  • Shun-Ai Liu,
  • Yao Xie

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 130, no. 15
pp. 1810 – 1815


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Background: Hepatitis B is an immune response-mediated disease. The aim of this study was to explore the differences of ratios of T-helper (Th) 2 cells to Th1 cells and cytokine levels in acute hepatitis B (AHB) patients and chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV)-infected patients in immune-tolerance and immune-active phases. Methods: Thirty chronic HBV-infected patients in the immune-tolerant phase (IT group) and 50 chronic hepatitis B patients in the immune-active (clearance) phase (IC group), 32 AHB patients (AHB group), and 13 healthy individuals (HI group) were enrolled in the study. Th cell proportions in peripheral blood, cytokine levels in plasma, and serum levels of HBV DNA, hepatitis B surface antigen, and hepatitis B e antigen were detected. Results: The Th1 cell percentage and Th2/Th1 ratio in the HBV infection group (including IT, IC, and AHB groups) were significantly different from those in HI group (24.10% ± 8.66% and 1.72 ± 0.61 vs. 15.16% ± 4.34% and 2.40 ± 0.74, respectively; all P < 0.001). However, there were no differences in the Th1 cell percentages and Th2/Th1 ratios among the IT, IC, and AHB groups. In HBV infection group, the median levels of Flt3 ligand (Flt3L), interferon (IFN)-γ, and interleukin (IL)-17A were significantly lower than those in HI group (29.26 pg/ml, 33.72 pg/ml, and 12.27 pg/ml vs. 108.54 pg/ml, 66.48 pg/ml, and 35.96 pg/ml, respectively; all P < 0.05). IFN-α2, IL-10, and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β2 median levels in hepatitis group (including patients in AHB and IC groups) were significantly higher than those in IT group (40.14 pg/ml, 13.58 pg/ml, and 557.41 pg/ml vs. 16.74 pg/ml, 6.80 pg/ml, and 419.01 pg/ml, respectively; all P < 0.05), while patients in hepatitis group had significant lower Flt3L level than IT patients (30.77 vs. 59.96 pg/ml, P = 0.021). Compared with IC group, patients in AHB group had significant higher median levels of IL-10, TGF-β1, and TGF-β2 (22.77 pg/ml, 10,447.00 pg/ml, and 782.28 pg/ml vs. 8.66 pg/ml, 3755.50 pg/ml, and 482.87 pg/ml, respectively; all P < 0.05). Conclusions: Compared with chronic HBV-infected patients in immune-tolerance phase, chronic HBV-infected patients in immune-active phase and AHB patients had similar Th2/Th1 ratios, significantly higher levels of IFN-α2, IL-10, and TGF-β. AHB patients had significantly higher IL-10 and TGF-β levels than chronic HBV-infected patients in immune-active phase.