Antigen-specific IL-10 Producing CD4+,CD25+ Regulatory T Cells in Chronically Infected HCV Patients

Tayebeh Hashempoor, Taravat Bamdad, Javad Arasteh, Rahman Emamzadeh, Arghavan Haj-sheikhol-eslami, Reihane Asadi, Shahin Merat


Background :

The mechanism behind the apparent lack of effective antiviral immune response in patients with chronic hepatitis C

virus (HCV) infection is poorly understood. Although multiple levels of abnormalities have been identified in innate and

adaptive immunity, it is postulated that production of specific cytokines such as IL-10 may contribute to the induction

and maintenance of HCV persistence. Production of IL-10 by CD4+,CD25+,IL-10+ regulatory T cells with regulatory

capacity (Tregs) appears to be one of the viral mechanisms that alter the antiviral immune response. As the first report,

that attempts to mimic physiological forces that can occur during HCV infection, in this study we evaluate the ability of

HCV-core antigens in increasing the frequency of CD4+,CD25+,IL-10+ regulatory T cells.

Materials and Methods:

We analyzed peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from chronic HCV-infected patients (n=19) and normal

controls (n=6) to determine the effect of the HCV-core antigen in the frequency of HCV-specific IL-10 production.

PBMCs of different groups were isolated, cultured and stimulated with core antigen. Then, an in-house triple-stain flow

cytometric method was used to investigate the frequency of CD4+,CD25+,IL-10 producing cells.


Following incubation of PBMCs with HCV-core antigen, a population of CD4+,CD25+,IL-10+ cells (regulatory T cells)

increased. However we observed no increase in Tregs in the negative controls.


The study supports the view that specific CD4+,CD25+,IL-10+ T cells may be implicated in host immune tolerance

during an HCV infection. It is likely that HCV vaccine candidates avoid epitopes that lead to strong IL-10 production.


Regulatory T cells; Hepatitis C virus infection; HCV-core antigen

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