Interleukin-2, a product of helper T cells, is essentially involved in the regulation of cell-mediated immunity. Two monocyte-derived factors, interleukin-1 and prostaglandin E2, influence interleukin-2 synthesis with opposite actions.
To analyse immunoregulatory function in HBsAg-positive chronic active hepatitis, T cell subsets in peripheral blood and the levels of interleukin-2, interleukin-1 and prostaglandin E2 in supernatants from lectin- or lipopolysaccharide-activated peripheral mononuclear cell cultures were determined in 16 healthy controls and 33 patients with chronic active hepatitis B. Interleukin-2 activity was comparable to the controls in patients without delta infection who had seroconverted to anti-HBe (group 1), but it was significantly reduced in both HBeAg-positive subjects (group 2) (P less than 0.05 vs. controls and group 1) and those cases with positive delta markers (group 3) (P less than 0.01 and less than 0.05 vs. controls and group 1, respectively). In group 3, interleukin-2 was similarly diminished in both anti-HTLV-III-positive and -negative cases as well as in HBeAg- and anti-HBe-positive subjects. Notwithstanding the changes in interleukin-2 activity, no significant differences in the number of T4 cells, or in the levels of either interleukin-1 or prostaglandin E2, were found among the various groups of subjects studied.
However, in those groups with reduced interleukin-2 activity an increased number of T8 cells was observed. It is suggested that the low levels of interleukin-2 found in the replicative phase of chronic active hepatitis B and in delta superinfection reflect a disturbed immunoregulation that may contribute to persistent viral replication in these two conditions.
CITATION/strong> J Hepatol. 1987 Aug;5(1):37-44
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