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Th-17 cells infiltrate the liver in human biliary atresia and are related to surgical outcome

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Richard Hill, Alberto Quaglia, Munther Hussain, Nedim Hadzic, Giorgina Mieli-vergani, Diego Vergani, Mark Davenport

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1297-1303
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number8
Early online date14 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015


King's Authors


BACKGROUND: Biliary atresia (BA), a cholangiopathy of unknown etiology is associated with intrahepatic mononuclear cell infiltrate. An abnormal reaction to viral exposure has been hypothesized in some cases. We aimed to investigate the nature of the CD4+ hepatic infiltrate in defined clinical variants of BA by quantification of inflammatory cell components. METHODS: Liver biopsies of infants obtained at Kasai portoenterostomy (KPE) were stained immunohistochemically using monoclonal antibodies to Tbet, GATA-3, FOXP3 and interleukin (IL) 17, identifying Th-1, Th-2, Tregs and Th-17 cells respectively. T cells were counted with the aid of a graticule. Data are reported as median (range) of cells per high-power-field (×400) and compared using nonparametric statistical tests with P≤0.05 regarded as significant. RESULTS: Liver biopsies from BA (n=37) and age-matched cholestatic controls (e.g. alpha-1-anti trypsin deficiency, Alagilles syndrome, n=12) were investigated. BA infants were divided into three groups: cytomegalovirus IgM +ve (CMV; n=9); BA splenic malformation (BASM; n=9) and isolated BA (IBA; n=19). All T-cell subsets were present in the portal tracts, with an overrepresentation of Th-1 (P<0.001) and Th-17 (P<0.03), but not Th-2 (P=0.94) or Tregs (P=0.15), compared to controls. Th-1 cells predominated in the CMV group; (18 [7-37] vs. 3 [0-14] [BASM] and vs. 5 [3-23] [IBA]; P<0.01 both), while no subgroup differences were seen for Th-17 cells. The degree of Th-1 cell infiltrate inversely correlated with platelet count (rS=-0.49; P<0.01). Th-17 cells were fewer (6 [2-11] vs. 11 [8-20]; P=0.02) in infants who cleared their jaundice (n=15, <20μmol/L) although this did not translate to improved native liver survival (P=0.17). CONCLUSIONS: Th-17 cells infiltrate the liver in BA and are associated with a worse surgical outcome; a Th-1 profile predominates in CMV-associated BA.

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