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Hepatic Local Micro-environmental Immune Status in Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Cirrhotic Tissues

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common malignant tumours in the world, especially in Guangxi, China. The causes and mechanism of its tumourigenesis and development have not been completely clarified. Some studies revealed that the hepatic local cellular immune function was one of the factors. In the present study, the local micro-environmental immune status was explored by investigating the number, distribution and function of CD3, CD57,CD20, CD68, and granzyme B (GrB) positive cells in 60 patients with HCC and 62 patients with liver cirrhosis (LC) and its relationship with the prognosis of the patients. The results showed that the number of T and B lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cells in the liver of HCC patients was significantly higher than that in the LC and normal controls; while the number of macrophages (Mϕ) was significantly lower. The number of Mϕ in the tissues decreased successively with the decrease of HCC differentiation; GrB-expressing cells in the liver predominantly consisted of CD57 positive cells. The number of NK cells, B lymphocytes and GrBexpressing cells in the cancerous tissues of stage I and II was significantly higher than that of stages III and IV. The number of T lymphocytes, NK cells, Mϕ and GrB-expressing lymphocytes in HCC cases without metastasis in 15 months was significantly higher than in the metastatic counterparts. The number of T and B lymphocytes, NK cells, and GrB-expressing cells decreased in patients with the progression of the HCC. These results suggest that the number of T and B lymphocytes, NK cells, Mϕ and GrB-positive lymphocytes might be important markers in the estimation of hepatic local immune status and be useful factors for predicting the prognosis of HCC patients.
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e-Published: 17 Jun, 2013
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