Vigorous Activation of Monocytes in Juvenile Autoimmune Liver Disease Escapes the Control of Regulatory T-Cells

Serena Longhi, Ragai R. Mitry, Marianne Samyn, Astrid Scalori, Munther J. Hussain, Alberto Quaglia, Giorgina Mieli-Vergani, Yun Ma, Diego Vergani

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    72 Citations (Scopus)


    Interface hepatitis, the histological lesion typical of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), is composed of CD4 and CD8 T lymphocytes and of innate immunity cells, particularly monocytes. Studies in AIH have focused on autoreactive CD4 and CD8 T cells and impairment of CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells (T-regs), whereas little is known about the role of monocytes and their relationship with T-regs. We have investigated 51 patients with autoimmune liver disease (AILD) and 27 healthy subjects, finding that monocytes were higher in number (P = 0.044), had a more vigorous spontaneous migration (P <0.0005 in patients with inactive disease [ID], and P <0.001 in those with active disease [AD]), displayed a higher tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) over interleukin (IL)-10 production (P = 0.07 in ID and P = 0.0005 in AD), and expressed higher levels of Toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 (P = 0.048 in ID and P = 0.03 in AD). Addition of conventional T-regs (cT-regs) in AILD enhanced monocyte migration (P = 0.05 in ID and P = 0.08 in AD), magnified TNF-alpha over IL-10 production (P = 0.0005 in ID and P = 0.006 in AD), and markedly increased TLR4 expression levels (P = 0.01 in ID and P = 0.004 in AD), whereas in normal subjects it either restrained or left unchanged monocyte function. Because a CD127-negative subpopulation within CD4+CD25+ Tcells exerts the strongest regulatory activity, we performed additional experiments using purified CD4+CD25+CD127- T cells (true T-regs [tT-regs]). Addition of tT-regs to monocytes decreased monocyte migration (P = 0.03) and promoted IL-10 production (P = 0.009), leaving unchanged TLR4 expression in healthy subjects, whereas in patients with AILD it induced only a marginal increase in IL-10 production (P = 0.045 in ID and P = 0.13 in AD). Conclusion: Monocyte overactivation and inability of cT-regs and tT-regs to restrain it may contribute to the loss of immune tolerance and perpetuation of the autoimmune attack in AILD. (HEPATOLOGY 2009;50:130-142.)
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)130 - 142
    Number of pages13
    Issue number1
    Early online date18 Feb 2009
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009


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