Genotype-Associated Differential NKG2D Expression on CD56+CD3+ Lymphocytes Predicts Response to Pegylated-Interferon/ Ribavirin Therapy in Chronic Hepatitis C

>Hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 infections are significantly more difficult to eradicate with PEG-IFN/ribavirin therapy, compared to HCV genotype 2. The aim of this work is to investigate the difference of immunological impairments underlying this phenomenon. Pre-treatment NKG2D expression on peripheral CD56+CD3+ lymphocytes and CD56+CD3− NK cells from cases of chronic hepatitis C were analyzed and assessed by treatment effect. Two strains of HCV were used to co-incubate with immune cells in vitro. NKG2D expression on peripheral CD56+CD3+ lymphocytes, but not NK cells, was significantly impaired in genotype 1 infection, compared to genotype 2. When peripheral blood mononuclear cells from healthy donors were co-incubated with TNS2J1, a genotype 1b/2a chimera strain, or with JFH1, a genotype 2a strain, genotype-specific decrease of NKG2D on CD56+CD3+ lymphocytes, but not NK cells, was observed. Pre-treatment NKG2D expression on peripheral CD56+CD3+ lymphocytes significantly correlated with reduction in serum HCV RNA levels from week 0 to week 4, and predicted treatment response. Ex vivo stimulation of peripheral CD56+CD3+ lymphocytes showed NKG2D expression-correlated IFN-γ production. In conclusion, Decreased NKG2D expression on CD56+CD3+ lymphocytes in chronic HCV genotype 1 infection predicts inferior treatment response to PEG-IFN/ribavirin therapy compared to genotype 2.

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Source URL:http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0125664