, Volume 33, Issue 7, pp 1240-1249,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 17 Aug 2013

Expression Pattern of Serum Cytokines in Hepatitis B Virus Infected Patients with Persistently Normal Alanine Aminotransferase Levels



About 60–80 % of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) carriers are characterized with persistently normal alanine transaminase (ALT). Differences of cytokine expression are associated with the prognosis of HBV infection. We investigated the expression pattern of 30 cytokines associated with anti-HBV immunity in patients with normal ALT.


Four patient groups (immune tolerance, inactive hepatitis B surface antigen carriers, resolved hepatitis B, and control; 10 subjects per group) were assigned. Thirty cytokines, including IFN-γ, IL-1β, IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-7, IL-9, IL-10, IL-12p40, IL-12p70, IL-15, IL-17A, IL-17C, IL-21, IL-22, IL-23p19, IL-28A, IL-29, CCL5, CCL16, CCL20, CCL22, CXCL9, CXCL10, CXCL11, TNFRSF8, TNFRSF18, IL-6R, gp130, and TGF-β1, were measured using a human cytokine antibody array. Signal intensities were obtained by laser scanner. Protein-protein interactions were analyzed by STRING (Search Tool for the Retrieval of Interacting Genes/Proteins).


Significant differences of signal intensities were observed for IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-7, IL-9, IL-10, IL-12p40, IL-12p70, IL-15, IL-21, IL-23p19, IL-28A, and IL-29. The lowest intensity was in controls. Among three HBV infection groups, significant differences were observed in IL-2, IL-4, IL-12p70, IL-15, IL-21, IL-23p19, and IL-29. The highest intensity was in the inactive group. All cytokines with significant differences were involved JAK-STAT signaling that up-regulate FOXP3, SOCS3 and MX1.


Differential expression of cytokines in JAK-STAT signaling is an important factor associated with prognosis of HBV infection. The elevation of γC cytokines, IL-12p70, IL-23p19, and IL-29 may promote spontaneous HBeAg seroconversion and HBV clearance.

Dengming He and Maoshi Li contributed equally to this work.