Early loss of T lymphocyte 4-1BB receptor expression is associated with higher short-term mortality in alcoholic hepatitis

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Objectives In alcoholic hepatitis (AH), dysfunctional T lymphocytes may contribute to the high mortality from infections. T lymphocyte activation is governed by the expression of co-stimulatory receptors such as 4-1BB balanced by inhibitory receptors such as Programmed Death receptor 1 (PD-1). 4-1BB expression is unaccounted for in AH, while PD-1 is elevated. We characterized expression of 4-1BB and PD-1 and the associated T lymphocyte functional status in AH and investigated whether these were associated with short-term mortality. Methods Thirty-five patients with AH (at diagnosis and days 7 and 90) were compared with healthy controls (HC). Spontaneous and in vitro stimulated receptor expression were quantified by flow cytometry, and plasma proteins by ELISA. Results At diagnosis, the patients showed increased stimulated 4-1BB responses of CD4+ T lymphocytes. Also, the frequencies of PD-1+ T lymphocytes both with and without co-expressed 4-1BB were increased. Further, interferon-gamma was predominantly produced in T lymphocytes co-expressing 4-1BB. A decrease in the frequency of spontaneous 4-1BB+ T lymphocytes and an increase in soluble 4-1BB during the first week after diagnosis were associated with higher mortality at day 90 in AH. PD-1 expression showed no systematic dynamics related to mortality. Conclusions We found an increased stimulated 4-1BB response of T lymphocytes in AH and early loss of these lymphocytes was associated with a higher short-term mortality. This suggests a role of T lymphocyte 4-1BB expression in the progression of AH.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0255574
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

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© 2021 Eriksen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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