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Natural killer (NK) cells exhibit dysregulated effector function in adult chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection (CHB), which may contribute to virus persistence. The role of NK cells in children infected perinatally with HBV is less studied. Access to a unique cohort enabled the cross-sectional evaluation of NK cell frequency, phenotype and function in HBV-infected children relative to uninfected children. We observed a selective defect in NK cell interferon (IFN)-γ production, with conserved cytolytic function, mirroring the functional dichotomy observed in adult infection. Reduced expression of NKp30 on NK cells suggests a role of impaired NK-dendritic cell (DC) cellular interactions as a potential mechanism leading to reduced IFN-γ production. The finding that NK cells are already defective in paediatric CHB, albeit less extensively than in adult CHB, has potential implications for the timing of anti-viral therapy aiming to restore immune control.

Original publication

DOI

10.1111/cei.12470

Type

Journal article

Journal

Clin Exp Immunol

Publication Date

03/2015

Volume

179

Pages

466 - 476

Keywords

IFN-γ, NK cells, NKp30, anti-viral function, paediatric HBV infection, Adolescent, Antigens, Viral, Cell Communication, Child, Child, Preschool, Cohort Studies, Cross-Sectional Studies, Cytotoxicity, Immunologic, Dendritic Cells, Down-Regulation, Female, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis B virus, Humans, Interferon-gamma, Killer Cells, Natural, Male, Natural Cytotoxicity Triggering Receptor 3