Several immune mechanisms combat viral infections; these include phagocytosis, production of cytokines and chemokines, the formation of neutrophil extracellular traps, and interactions with other immune cells. The aim of this study is to investigate the influence of neutrophils on the production of cytokines associated with different T helper cellular subsets in chronically HCV-infected patients with compensated liver disease. Thirty chronically HCV-infected patients and 75 sex and age-matched healthy controls (HC) were enrolled in this study. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were isolated from whole blood by Ficoll-Hypaque density gradient centrifugation. Neutrophils was isolated by density gradient separation. Neutrophils, neutrophil-depleted PBMC and neutrophil-enriched PBMC were stimulated with a mitogen, (phytohaemagglutinin (PHA)) and the proliferation index were assessed using flow cytometric carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester incorporation assay. After stimulation the stimulation indices were calculated, culture supernatants were collected and evaluated for the levels of GM-CSF, IFN-α, IFN- γ, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-9, IL-10, IL-12, IL-17A, and TNF-α cytokines by MACSPlex Cytokine 10, human kit. We detected a significant decrease in the mean values of IL-6, for PHA stimulated neutrophils and neutrophil-enriched PBMC of HCV-infected patients when compared to HC (P<0.05). In contrast, we detected a significant increase in GM-CSF and IFN-γ mean levels of neutrophils and neutrophils-enriched PBMC of HCV-infected patients when compared to HC (P<0.05). Our results could extend our knowledge about the role of neutrophils in the induction of cytokines against HCV infection.
Key words: Hepatitis C virus, neutrophils, phytohaemagglutinin, stimulation index, cytokines, interleukins.