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Journal of Immunology Research
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 479703, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/479703
Review Article

Regulatory T Cells in Autoimmune and Viral Chronic Hepatitis

Laboratoire d’Immunovirologie, Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier, Laval, QC, Canada H7V 1B7

Received 22 March 2015; Accepted 21 May 2015

Academic Editor: Stuart Berzins

Copyright © 2015 Pascal Lapierre and Alain Lamarre. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

In both autoimmune liver disease and chronic viral hepatitis, the injury results from an immune-mediated cytotoxic T cell response to liver cells. As such, it is not surprising that CD4+ regulatory T cells, a key regulatory population of T cells able to curb immune responses, could be involved in both autoimmune hepatitis and chronic viral hepatitis. The liver can induce the conversion of naïve CD4+ T cells to CD4+ regulatory T cells and induce tolerance to locally expressed antigens. This tolerance mechanism is carefully regulated in physiological conditions but any imbalance could be pathological. An overly tolerant immune response can lead to chronic infections while an overreactive and unbridled immune response can lead to autoimmune hepatitis. With the recent advent of monoclonal antibodies able to target regulatory T cells (daclizumab) and improve immune responses and several ongoing clinical trials analysing the impact of regulatory T cell infusion on autoimmune liver disease or liver transplant tolerance, modulation of immunological tolerance through CD4+ regulatory T cells could be a key element of future immunotherapies for several liver diseases allowing restoring the balance between proper immune responses and tolerance.