• Reconstitution of T follicular helper-humoral immune axis with elimination of hepatitis C virus

      Khanam, Arshi; Kottilil, Shyamasundaran; Wilson, Eleanor (Springer Nature, 2020-11-16)
      Exhaustion of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)-specific T cells and abnormal B cell function is a hallmark of chronic HCV infection. Direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapies are effective in achieving sustained virologic response (SVR), however, whether successful DAA treatment reconstitute T follicular helper (TFH)-B cell axis in HCV patients is unclear. Here, we aimed to evaluate the immunological changes in global and HCV-specific CD4 + CXCR5 + TFH, CD4 + CXCR5-T and B cells in 20 HCV patients who achieved SVR with Sofosbuvir and Ledipasvir for 12 weeks and compared with 15 healthy controls (HC). Global and HCV-specific CD4 + CXCR5 + TFH, CD4 + CXCR5-T and CD19 + B cells had significant phenotypic and functional reconstitution post DAA therapy. Reconstitution of effector, central and terminally differentiated memory cell population and increased ICOS and BCL6 expression was seen in HCV patients at SVR12. HCV-specific cytokines were also improved post DAA. Exhausted and regulatory B cells were declined whereas memory B cells were expanded post DAA therapy. Importantly, frequencies of TFH cells were significantly associated with HCV RNA reduction, expansion of memory B and plasmablasts, while negatively associated with exhausted/regulatory B cells. Our results demonstrate that SVR with DAA therapy is effective in the reconstitution of phenotypic and functional abnormalities of TFH-B cell axis.