Papers And Originals

Cell-mediated Immune Responses in Chronic Liver Diseases

Br Med J 1972; 1 doi: (Published 26 February 1972) Cite this as: Br Med J 1972;1:527

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. M. G. M. Smith,
  2. P. L. Golding,
  3. A. L. W. F. Eddleston,
  4. C. G. Mitchell,
  5. A. Kemp,
  6. Roger Williams


    Studies of the cell-mediated response to liver antigens, using the leucocyte migration test, in 163 patients with various liver disorders showed that abnormal responses were almost confined to active chronic hepatitis (53% abnormal), primary biliary cirrhosis (64%), and cryptogenic cirrhosis (29%). The test was also abnormal in five out of seven patients with jaundice due to drug hypersensitivity and in one patient with acute infectious hepatitis at a time when mitochondrial antibodies were present in the serum. More of those with active chronic hepatitis on prednisone or azathioprine had normal tests than of those who were untreated, and in 8 out of 10 examined serially during therapy there was an accompanying improvement in leucocyte migration. Abnormal responses to salivary gland or kidney antigens were also found in nearly half of those with features of Sjögren's syndrome or renal tubular acidosis as part of a multisystem involvement—this, though occurring in cryptogenic cirrhosis, was found with greater frequency in active chronic hepatitis and primary biliary cirrhosis. These cell-mediated immune responses, perhaps triggered by the initial damage to the liver from viral or other agents, may be responsible both for the perpetuation of the liver disease and, because of common surface antigens, for the damage to other organs.