Background/Aims Host factors that may influence progression of hepatitis C infection to chronic hepatitis include T-cell responses and iron accumulation. We evaluated the hepatic expression of immunological markers relevant for a cytotoxic response in relation to viral and HFE genotype. Methods Frozen liver biopsies were obtained at diagnosis from 28 HFE genotyped patients. Sections stained for CD8, MHC-I, β2m, HFE and CD68 were analyzed blind by morphometry. Response to therapy was available in 12 cases. Results A negative correlation was found between the number of CD8+ cells and fibrosis. CD8+ cells localized as clusters in portal tracts and sinusoids and were seen interacting with MHC-I positive lining cells. MHC-I and β2m were expressed mainly in the endothelial and Kupffer cells. HFE was expressed in most, but not all, round and dendritic CD68+ cells. Patients with virus genotype 3a had higher hepatic MHC-I and HFE expression, and a better-sustained response to IFN therapy than other patients. Conclusions In chronic hepatitis C virus infection MHC-I expression in the liver seems to relate to viral-genotype. In addition, the expression of MHC-I molecules by Kupffer cells places them as probable important players in the host response to HCV.
- Hepatitis C virus