Role and recruitment of Th9 cells in liver cirrhosis patients
Objective: To investigate the role of T helper 9 (Th9) cells in liver cirrhosis (LC) patients and whether chemokine receptor type 6 (CCR6)/chemokine ligand 20 (CCL20) axis is involving in the recruitment of Th9 cells into liver. Methods: Peripheral blood and liver tissue from 30 LC patients and 18 normal controls were recruited. The frequency of Th9 cells and CCR4, CCR6 in the peripheral blood was tested by flow cytometry. Serum interleukin (IL)-9 and CCL20 levels were tested by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Immunohistochemical staining was used to detect α-smooth muscle actin, CCR6 and CCL20 expression in liver tissue. Results: The frequency of Th9 cells in LC patients was significantly increased compared with controls (P < 0.05). The serum IL-9 level and CCL20 level increased markedly in LC patients compared with controls (P < 0.05), and IL-9 was positively correlated to Th9 cells and CCL20. Furthermore, the frequency of Th9 cells was correlated to prothrombin time, total bilirubin level, hyaluronic acid and type IV collagen in LC patients. We also found that Th9 cells in LC patients expressed higher frequency of CCR4+ , CCR6+ (P < 0.05). Compared with normal controls, the expression of CCR6 and CCL20 in LC tissue were significantly elevated (P < 0.05). The expression of α-smooth muscle actin was correlated to the CCR6 and CCL20 in liver tissue of LC patients. Conclusions: This study suggests that Th9 cells may participate in the pathogenesis of LC, and the recruitment of Th9 cells into liver tissue might be through CCL20/CCR6 axis.
Supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81260083; 31360221) and Natural Science Foundation of Guangxi Province (2014GXNSFAA118203).