Diminished function of cytotoxic T- and NK- cells in severe alcohol-associated hepatitis

Adam Kim, Christina K. Cajigas-Du Ross, Jaividhya Dasarathy, Annette Bellar, David Streem, Nicole Welch, Srinivasan Dasarathy, Laura E. Nagy
2022 Metabolism and Target Organ Damage  
Aim: Metabolic liver diseases, including alcohol- and non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases (ALD/NAFLD), are characterized by inflammation and decreased ability to prevent infections. Patients with severe alcohol-associated hepatitis (sAH) are particularly susceptible to infections while undergoing treatment with steroids. Understanding the immunological mechanisms for these responses is critical to managing the treatment of patients with metabolic liver diseases. Cytotoxic NK cells and CD8 T
more » ... , using cytolytic granules, serve an important immunological role by killing infected cells, including monocytes. However, patients with sAH have dysfunctional NK cells, which cannot kill target cells, though the mechanism is unknown. Method: We performed an exploratory study using single-cell RNA-seq (scRNA-seq) (n = 4) and multi-panel intracellular flow cytometry (n = 7-8 for all patient groups) on PBMCs isolated from patients with sAH and healthy controls (HC). Results: ScRNA-seq revealed receptors in NK cells and CD8 T cells required for cytotoxic cell recognition of activated monocytes were downregulated in patients with sAH compared to healthy controls. Granulysin was the most downregulated gene in both NK cells and effector CD8 T cells. In NK cells from HC, expression of granulysin, perforin, and granzymes A and B was highly correlated; however, in sAH, these genes lost coordinate expression, indicative of dysfunctional cytolytic granule formation. Finally, the expression of cytolytic granule proteins in NK cells was decreased from sAH, indicating reduced cytolytic granules. Conclusion: Together, these results suggest a loss of cytotoxic cell function in PBMCs from sAH that may contribute to a decreased ability to communicate with other immune cells, such as monocytes, and prevent the killing of infected cells, thus increasing the risk of infection.
doi:10.20517/mtod.2022.13 fatcat:w4hoxiogdfhs3a3kdseg32k44y