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Increased Expression of CTLA4 by T Cells, Induced by B7 in Sera, Reduces Adaptive Immunity in Patients With Acute Liver Failure

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Wafa Khamri, Robin D. Abeles, Tie Zheng Hou, Amy E. Anderson, Ahmed El-Masry, Evangelos Triantafyllou, Christine Bernsmeier, Fin S. Larsen, Arjuna Singanayagam, Nobuaki Kudo, Lucia A. Possamai, Fanny Lebosse, Georg Auzinger, William Bernal, Christopher Willars, Christopher J. Weston, Giovanna Lombardi, Julia Wendon, Mark Thursz, Charalambos G. Antoniades

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere8.
Pages (from-to)263-276
JournalGastroenterology
Volume153
Early online date28 Mar 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Mar 2017

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Abstract

Background & Aims Patients with acute liver failure (ALF) have defects in innate immune responses to microbes (immuneparesis) and are susceptible to sepsis. Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte associated protein 4 (CTLA4), which interacts with the membrane receptor B7 (also called CD80 and CD86), is a negative regulator of T-cell activation. We collected T cells from patients with ALF and investigated whether inhibitory signals downregulate adaptive immune responses in patients with ALF. Methods We collected peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with ALF and controls from September 2013 through September 2015 (45 patients with ALF, 20 patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure, 15 patients with cirrhosis with no evidence of acute decompensation, 20 patients with septic shock but no cirrhosis or liver disease, and 20 healthy individuals). Circulating CD4+T cells were isolated and analyzed by flow cytometry. CD4+ T cells were incubated with antigen, or agonist to CD3 and dendritic cells, with or without antibody against CTLA4; T-cell proliferation and protein expression were quantified. We measured levels of soluble B7 molecules in supernatants of isolated primary hepatocytes, hepatic sinusoidal endothelial cells, and biliary epithelial cells from healthy or diseased liver tissues. We also measured levels of soluble B7 serum samples from patients and controls, and mice with acetaminophen-induced liver injury using ELISAs. Results Peripheral blood samples from patients with ALF had a higher proportion of CD4+ CTLA4+ T cells than controls; patients with infections had the highest proportions. CD4+T cells from patients with ALF had a reduced proliferative response to antigen or CD3 stimulation compared to cells from controls; incubation of CD4+T cells from patients with ALF with an antibody against CTLA4 increased their proliferative response to antigen and to CD3 stimulation, to the same levels as cells from controls. CD4+ T cells from controls upregulated expression of CTLA4 following 24–48 hrs culture with sera from patients with ALF; these sera were found to have increased concentrations of soluble B7 compared to sera from controls. Necrotic human primary hepatocytes exposed to acetaminophen, but not hepatic sinusoidal endothelial cells and biliary epithelial cells from patients with ALF, secreted high levels of soluble B7. Sera from mice with acetaminophen-induced liver injury contained high levels of soluble B7 compared to sera from mice without liver injury. Plasma exchange reduced circulating levels of soluble B7 in patients with ALF and expression of CTLA4 on T cells. Conclusions Peripheral CD4+ T cells from patients with ALF have increased expression of CTLA4 compared to individuals without ALF; these cells have a reduced response to antigen and CD3 stimulation. We found sera of patients with ALF and from mice with liver injury to have high concentrations of soluble B7, which upregulates CTLA4 expression by T cells and reduces their response to antigen. Plasma exchange reduces levels of B7 in sera from patients with ALF and might be used to restore antimicrobial responses to patients.

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