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TH1 and TH2 Cytokines in Patients With Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection

1Fatma A. Auf and 2Nabieh A. El Gawalby

Department of 1Clinical Pathology and 2Gastroenterology Center, Faculty of Medicine, Mansoura University, Egypt.

An imbalance between T helper cell Th1 and Th2 like cytokines has been described in several chronic infectious diseases. In an attempt to investigate the immunopathogenesis of chronic hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and to assess the in vitro T helper response, we analyzed Th1 cytokine (IL-2) and Th2 cytokine (IL-10) production by phytohemagglutinin (PHA) stimulated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) derived from 39 patients with viremic chronic hepatitis C and 16 healthy individuals. We used PHA mitogen, a non specific polyclonal activator of T- lymphocytes, as specific HCV antigens are not available. Cytokine production was determined in culture supernatant after 48 hours of stimulation by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The results showed that the production of IL-2 was significantly decreased in patients with chronic hepatitis C infection as compared to controls (Mean 0.7 0.4 & 2.8 0.6 ng/ml) respectively, P <0.001. On the other hand IL-10 production was significantly increased in patients compared to controls (Mean 8.3 3.6 & 1.3 0.5 ng/ml) respectively, P < 0.001. There was a significant negative correlation between IL-2 and IL-10 production (r - 0.55, P = 000). These results indicated that a defect in Th1 cytokine (IL-2) and an enhanced Th2 cytokine (IL-10) Production are found in chronic HCV infection and these may contribute to the persistence of the disease.