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The association between NK cells and T-lymphocyte subpopulations and fibrosis progression in chronic hepatitis C

Author(s): Andrzej Gabriel | Bogdan Mazur | Michał Kukla | Adam Ziółkowski | Barbara Szczygieł | Krzysztof Tomaszek

Journal: Polish Gastroenterology
ISSN 1232-9886

Volume: 16;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 278;
Date: 2009;
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Keywords: chronic hepatitis C | fibrosis dynamics | NK cells | lymphocytes | flow cytometry

Introduction:Outcomein patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) is mainly determined bythe range and dynamicsof fibrosis. Aim of the study: Flow cytometric measurement of T, B,T helper (Th), and cytotoxicT (Tc) lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cells in peripheral blood (PB) before antiviral therapy; assessment of the usefulness of flow cytometry (FC) in defining the dynamics and annual progression (Fu/Y) of fibrosis; and the association between peripheral NK cell number and fibrosis progression in CHC patients. Material and methods: The study included patients with fast and slow dynamics of development of advanced fibrosis (with CHC for less than and more than 6 years, respectively), subsequently divided according to the annual progression of fibrosis (Fu/Y 〈0.5,0.5-0.8, >0.8). Results: Patients with fast dynamics of fibrosis had lower PB NK cell numbers. Lower NK cell numbers (p=0.05) and higher Th/Tc ratios (p=0.05) were found in the patients with the fastest (>0.8) than in those with the slowest annual progression of fibrosis (〈0.5 Fu/Y). A difference, albeit less evident, was also observed with respect to Tc cells between patients with different annual fibrosis progression. Conclusions: A lower number and/or impaired function of NK cells may be related to a rapid development of advanced fibrosis and the asses­sment of NK cells and Tc lymphocytes by FC as well as the Th/Tc ratio may be used as an additional, noninvasive method that allows identifying patients with probable higher risk of faster fibrosis progression. As a simple and noninvasive method of determining the dynamics of fibrosis, FC can be complementary to the static assessment of fibrosis stage by liver biopsy.
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