Negative Regulation of Hepatitis C Virus Specific Immunity Is Highly Heterogeneous and Modulated by Pegylated Interferon-Alpha/Ribavirin Therapy.

Specific inhibitory mechanisms suppress the T-cell response against the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in chronically infected patients. However, the relative importance of suppression by IL-10, TGF-β and regulatory T-cells and the impact of pegylated interferon-alpha and ribavirin (PegIFN-α/ribavirin) therapy on these inhibitory mechanisms are still unclear. We revealed that coregulation of the HCV-specific T-cell responses in blood of 43 chronic HCV patients showed a highly heterogeneous pattern before, during and after PegIFN-α/ribavirin. Prior to treatment, IL-10 mediated suppression of HCV-specific IFN-γ production in therapy-naive chronic HCV patients was associated with higher HCV-RNA loads, which suggests that protective antiviral immunity is controlled by IL-10. In addition, as a consequence of PegIFN-α/ribavirin therapy, negative regulation of especially HCV-specific IFN-γ production by TGF-β and IL-10 changed dramatically. Our findings emphasize the importance of negative regulation for the dysfunctional HCV-specific immunity, which should be considered in the design of future immunomodulatory therapies.

2012 PLoS One
Claassen MA, de Knegt RJ, Turgut D, Groothuismink ZM, Janssen HL, Boonstra A.