Background & Aims: Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells are important innate T cells with antimicrobial and immunoregulatory activity, recently found to be depleted in blood of patients with HIV and HCV mono-infections. In this study, we assessed the impact of HIV, HCV and HCV/HIV co-infection on circulating and intrahepatic MAIT-cells and correlations with liver fibrosis.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, nine healthy subjects, nine HIV, 20 HCV and 22 HCV/HIV co-infected patients were included. Blood and liver fine needle aspirate biopsies were studied using flowcytometry for CD3+CD161+Vα7.2+ MAIT-cell frequency, phenotype and function in HCV mono-infected and HCV/HIV co-infected patients without or with mild fibrosis (Metavir-score F0-F1) or severe fibrosis to cirrhosis (Metavir-score F3-F4).
Results: Circulating MAIT-cells were decreased in blood of HCV, HIV and HCV/HIV patients with F0-F1. In HCV/HIV co-infected individuals with severe fibrosis to cirrhosis, the frequency of circulating MAIT-cells was even further depleted, whereas their function was comparable to HCV/HIV co-infected patients with low or absent fibrosis. In contrast, in HCV mono-infected patients, MAIT-cell frequencies were not related to fibrosis severity; however, MAIT-cell function was impaired in mono-infected patients with more fibrosis. More advanced liver fibrosis in HCV or HCV/HIV-infected patients was not reflected by increased accumulation of MAIT-cells in the affected liver.
Conclusions: Severe liver fibrosis is associated with dysfunctional MAIT-cells in blood of HCV mono-infected patients, and lower MAIT frequencies in blood of HCV/HIV co-infected patients, without evidence for accumulation in the liver.

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Liver International
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Beudeker, B., van Oord, G., Arends, J., Schulze zur Wiesch, J. (Julian), van der Heide-Mulder, M., de Knegt, R., … Claassen, M. (2017). Mucosal-associated invariant T-cell frequency and function in blood and liver of HCV mono- and HCV/HIV co-infected patients with advanced fibrosis. Liver International. doi:10.1111/liv.13544