The pathogenetic effector functions of hepatitis B virus (HBV)-specific CD4+, Th1 cells were analyzed in two inbred lineages of HBV transgenic mice, one of which overexpresses the HBV large envelope protein rendering the hepatocytes hypersensitive to the cytopathic effects of IFN-gamma, and another that expresses all of the HBV proteins and replicates the virus in the liver. Transfer of HBV envelope-specific Th1 cells resulted in recognition of viral Ag expressed by hepatic nonparenchymal cells, cytokine release, and a transient necroinflammatory liver disease in both lineages. The liver disease was very severe in the IFN-gamma-sensitive lineage, and it was less severe in the lineage that replicates the HBV genome; nonetheless, in this lineage the Th1 cytokines produced by these cells suppressed viral replication in the liver. These results demonstrate that CD4+ T cells with a Th1 functional phenotype can perform pathogenetic and antiviral effector functions in vivo. This suggests that CD4+ T cells can contribute directly to disease pathogenesis and inhibit viral replication during HBV infection.
- Copyright © 1997 by American Association of Immunologists