Author(s): Littera R, Chessa L, , Onali S, Figorilli F, , Littera R, Chessa L, , Onali S, Figorilli F,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Natural killer cells are involved in the complex mechanisms underlying autoimmune diseases but few studies have investigated their role in autoimmune hepatitis. Killer immunoglobulin-like receptors are key regulators of natural killer cell-mediated immune responses. METHODS AND FINDINGS: KIR gene frequencies, KIR haplotypes, KIR ligands and combinations of KIRs and their HLA Class I ligands were investigated in 114 patients diagnosed with type 1 autoimmune hepatitis and compared with a group of 221 healthy controls. HLA Class I and Class II antigen frequencies were compared to those of 551 healthy unrelated families representative of the Sardinian population. In our cohort, type 1 autoimmune hepatitis was strongly associated with the HLA-B18, Cw5, DR3 haplotype. The KIR2DS1 activating KIR gene and the high affinity HLA-C2 ligands were significantly higher in patients compared to controls. Patients also had a reduced frequency of HLA-Bw4 ligands for KIR3DL1 and HLA-C1 ligands for KIR2DL3. Age at onset was significantly associated with the KIR2DS1 activating gene but not with HLA-C1 or HLA-C2 ligand groups. CONCLUSIONS: The activating KIR gene KIR2DS1 resulted to have an important predictive potential for early onset of type 1 autoimmune hepatitis. Additionally, the low frequency of the KIR-ligand combinations KIR3DL1/HLA-Bw4 and KIR2DL3/HLA-C1 coupled to the high frequency of the HLA-C2 high affinity ligands for KIR2DS1 could contribute to unwanted NK cell autoreactivity in AIH-1.
This article was published in PLoS One
and referenced in Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases & Practice