Journal of hepatology vol:16 issue:1-2 pages:228-40
During the last few years, there has been a growing evidence that hepatocytes are not merely 'passive' target cells for immunological attack by effector T-cells, but may play a more 'active' role in the initiation and perpetuation of the immune response. Immune modulators released by inflammatory cells at the site of inflammation, as well as the eliciting antigen itself, are able to modulate the phenotype of hepatocytes. This would result in abnormal cytokine production and/or cytokine/receptor expression, as well as active synthesis and display of surface immune 'activation' markers and adhesion molecules, which act as co-stimulatory signals for T-cell activation. These accessory functions involve multiple molecular pathways of cell-cell interactions, which in turn will enable hepatocytes to play a role as 'accessory' cells in both the afferent and efferent arms of the cell-mediated immune response.