Pedro Rodrigues

Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology, Oporto, Porto, Portugal

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Publications (24)75.04 Total impact

  • J V Neves, C Caldas, J M Wilson, P N S Rodrigues
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    ABSTRACT: Hepcidin, an antimicrobial peptide described as a key regulator of iron metabolism, is known to respond in mammals to several stimuli, including iron overload, anemia, hypoxia and inflammation, through a number of molecular pathways. In order to understand the molecular pathways involved in the regulation of hepcidin expression in teleost fish, we have isolated for European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) several coding sequences of known molecules involved on these pathways in mammals, namely jak3, stat3, tmprss6, bmp6, bmpr2, hjv, smad4, smad5, tfr1 and tfr2. The transcription levels of the isolated genes were evaluated by real-time PCR on fish subjected to experimental iron modulation (overload/deficiency) or infection with Photobacterium damsela. Results show that genes associated with the major pathway of the inflammatory response (IL6/JAK/STAT pathway) in mammals are also modulated in sea bass, being up-regulated during infection. Similarly, genes of the pathways classically associated with the response to variations in iron status (the HJV/BMP/SMAD and HFE/TfR pathways) are also modulated, mostly through down-regulation in iron deficiency and up-regulation during iron overload. Interestingly, many of these genes are also found to be up-regulated during infection, which may indicate a crosstalk between the known pathways of hepcidin regulation. These observations suggest the evolutionary conservation of the mechanisms of hepcidin regulation in teleost fish.
    Fish &amp Shellfish Immunology 12/2011; 31(6):1154-61. · 2.96 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ammonia is a toxic by-product of amino acid catabolism and a common environmental pollutant that has been associated with increased disease susceptibility in fish although the mechanism is not well understood. We addressed the hypothesis that elevated environmental ammonia acts by impairing the acute phase response (APR). Specifically, we determined the impact of sub-lethal acute (24 h) and chronic (14 d) ammonia exposure on acute phase protein gene expression in zebrafish (Danio rerio) in response to a challenge with bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS: i.p. 10 μg/g after 24h). A panel of LPS-responsive genes (SAA, HAMP, LECT2, Hp and IL1β) were identified and evaluated by real-time quantitative PCR. Ammonia was found to impair induction of SAA, HAMP and LECT2 by 50-90%. Both short (15 min, 1h and 24h) and long-term (14 days) exposure to high environmental ammonia concentrations significantly elevated whole-body cortisol levels compared with control fish. Our results reveal for the first time that exposure to high environmental levels of ammonia suppresses the innate immune response in fish. We hypothesize that high environmental ammonia-mediated elevation of cortisol levels in zebrafish may be playing a key role in this immunosuppression, while the mechanisms involved remains to be elucidated.
    Developmental and comparative immunology 05/2011; 36(2):279-88. · 3.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The SLC11A1/Nramp1 and SLC11A2/Nramp2 genes belong to the SLC11/Nramp family of transmembrane divalent metal transporters, with SLC11A1 being associated with resistance to pathogens and SLC11A2 involved in intestinal iron uptake and transferrin-bound iron transport. Both members of the SLC11 gene family have been clearly identified in tetrapods; however SLC11A1 has never been documented in teleost fish and is believed to have been lost in this lineage during early vertebrate evolution. In the present work we characterized the SLC11 genes in teleosts and evaluated if the roles attributed to mammalian SLC11 genes are assured by other fish specific SLC11 gene members. Two different SLC11 genes were isolated in the European sea bass (Dicentrarchus. labrax), and named slc11a2-α and slc11a2-β, since both were found to be evolutionary closer to tetrapods SLC11A2, through phylogenetic analysis and comparative genomics. Induction of slc11a2-α and slc11a2-β in sea bass, upon iron modulation or exposure to Photobacterium damselae spp. piscicida, was evaluated in in vivo or in vitro experimental models. Overall, slc11a2-α was found to respond only to iron deficiency in the intestine, whereas slc11a2-β was found to respond to iron overload and bacterial infection in several tissues and also in the leukocytes. Our data suggests that despite the absence of slc11a1, its functions have been undertaken by one of the slc11a2 duplicated paralogs in teleost fish in a case of synfunctionalization, being involved in both iron metabolism and response to bacterial infection. This study provides, to our knowledge, the first example of this type of sub-functionalization in iron metabolism genes, illustrating how conserving the various functions of the SLC11 gene family is of crucial evolutionary importance.
    BMC Evolutionary Biology 01/2011; 11:106. · 3.29 Impact Factor
  • João V Neves, Jonathan M Wilson, Pedro N S Rodrigues
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    ABSTRACT: Iron is essential for growth and survival, but it is also toxic when in excess. Thus, there is a tight regulation of iron that is accomplished by the interaction of several genes including the iron transporter transferrin and iron storage protein ferritin. These genes are also known to be involved in response to infection. The aim of this study was to understand the role of transferrin and ferritin in infection and iron metabolism in fish. Thus, sea bass transferrin and ferritin H cDNAs were isolated from liver, cloned and characterized. Transferrin constitutive expression was found to be highest in the liver, but also with significant expression in the brain, particularly in the highly vascularized region connecting the inferior lobe of the hypothalamus and the saccus vasculosus. Ferritin, on the other hand, was expressed in all tested organs, but also significantly higher in the liver. Fish were subjected to either experimental bacterial infection or iron modulation and transferrin and ferritin mRNA expression levels were analyzed, along with several iron regulatory parameters. Transferrin expression was found to decrease in the liver and increase in the brain in response to infection and to increase in the liver in iron deficiency. Ferritin expression was found to inversely reflect transferrin in the liver, increasing in infection and iron overload and decreasing in iron deficiency, whereas in the brain, ferritin expression was also increased in infection. These findings demonstrate the evolutionary conservation of transferrin and ferritin dual functions in vertebrates, being involved in both the immune response and iron metabolism.
    Developmental and comparative immunology 08/2009; 33(7):848-57. · 3.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: PPAR isotypes have been previously identified in the teleost brown trout (Salmo trutta f. fario) and their organ distribution pattern established. Being that the liver is a vital metabolic organ presenting expression of all isotypes and also knowing that estrogens/estrogen receptors seem to interact with PPARs, we hypothesized that the latter may very well change seasonally. So, we studied the expression of these receptors in the liver, along the annual reproductive cycle and in both genders. According to real-time RT-PCR, PPARalpha mRNA expression in females was significantly higher in May and lower in September than in other seasons. No significant variation was observed along the year in males. A significant difference between genders occurred in May, when PPARalpha expression was higher for females. PPARbeta expression showed little variation along the reproductive cycle in females, but in males it was significantly higher in December than in the other seasons. No significant differences existed between genders. PPARgamma was more expressed in February than in September and December, for females. As to males, it was more expressed in February than in all other seasons. No significant differences were observed between genders. The study proved our hypothesis that PPARs gene expression varies along the year. Moreover, PPARalpha expression in females followed the same annual variation pattern as peroxisome volumes and enzyme activities, and an inverse pattern relatively to the salmonid type annual plasma estradiol levels. The data agrees with the idea that PPARalpha is under estradiol modulation and that cross-talk between this receptor and the estrogen receptor possibly exists.
    General and Comparative Endocrinology 01/2009; 161(1):146-52. · 2.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hepatic iron overload in hemochomatosis patients can be highly variable but in general it develops in older patients. The purpose of this study was to compare development of iron load in of beta2m-/- and Hfe-/- mice paying special attention to liver pathology in older age groups. Liver iron content of beta2m-/-, Hfe-/- and control B6 mice of different ages (varying from 3 weeks to 18 months) was examined. Additional parameters (haematology indices, histopathology, lipid content and ferritin expression) were also studied in 18-month-old mice. The beta2m-/- strain presents higher hepatic iron content, hepatocyte nuclear iron inclusions, mitochondria abnormalities. In addition, hepatic steatosis was a common observation in this strain. In the liver of Hfe-/- mice, large mononuclear infiltrates positive for ferritin staining were commonly observed. The steatosis commonly observed the beta2m-/- mice may be a reflection of its higher hepatic iron content. The large hepatic mononuclear cell infiltrates seen in Hfe-/- stained for ferritin, may point to the iron sequestration capacity of lymphocytes and contribute to the clarification of the differences found in the progression of hepatic iron overload and steatosis in older animals from the two strains.
    International Journal of Experimental Pathology 09/2006; 87(4):317-24. · 2.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Despite heavy alcohol consumption, only a low percentage of heavy drinkers develop liver disease. Imbalances in T-cell subsets and iron metabolism parameters are common findings in heavy drinkers, yet the possible role played by discrete T-lymphocyte subsets under heavy alcohol consumption remains unclear.Methods: To gain new insights into the possible role played by T lymphocytes during alcohol consumption, characterization of CD28 expression and TcR repertoire in peripheral blood CD4+ and CD8+ T cells by two and three-color flow cytometry was performed. A group of heavy alcohol drinkers (AHD, n= 71) and a group of age-matched controls (n= 81), both HLA-phenotyped and HFE-genotyped, constituted the groups under study.Results: Marked expansions of CD28− T cells within the CD8+ but not the CD4+ T-cell pool were observed in AHD compared with controls. These CD8+CD28− expansions were paralleled by expansions of CD8+ T cells bearing specific TcR Vα/β chains, namely Vβ5.2. Moreover, AHD, but not controls, carrying the H63D mutation in the HFE gene showed significantly higher percentages of CD28− T cells within the CD8+ T-cell pool than AHD carrying the normal HFE gene. Finally, high numbers of CD8+CD28− T cells in AHD were associated with lower levels of the liver-related enzymes ALT and GGT.Conclusions: This study showed that under active ethanol consumption, expansions of discrete CD8+ T-cell subsets occur within the CD8+ T-cell pool, that molecules of the MHC-class I locus seem to influence the extent of the expansions, and that high numbers of CD8+CD28− T cells are associated with low levels of liver enzymes in AHD.
    Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 04/2006; 24(4):519 - 527. · 3.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The role of hepcidin in iron metabolism regulation and bacterial infection has been the focus of recent attention. However, in spite of the growing number of hepcidin genes known from different organisms, little is known about its putative dual function in fish. The aim of this study was to characterize the sea bass hepcidin gene and to study its role in iron metabolism and infection. The novel sea bass hepcidin gene was found to be organized into two introns and three exons with several copies present in the genome. The transcript showed a constitutive low basal expression being mainly expressed in liver and encoding a putative 85 residues long peptide. Fish were submitted either to iron status modulation or bacterial infection and the hepcidin transcript levels were analysed along with a number of other parameters. Liver hepcidin expression was found to increase in both the iron-overloaded and infected fish, while in the iron-deficient fish no alteration in expression levels was detected. These results point to the evolutionary conservation of hepcidin's dual functions.
    Developmental & Comparative Immunology 02/2006; 30(12):1156-67. · 3.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although widely studied in mammals, little information about fish peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPARs) is yet available. As a baseline for future studies, the three PPAR isotypes were identified in brown trout (Salmo trutta f. fario) and their organ distribution pattern was established. The cDNA fragments encoding PPARs alpha, beta and gamma were amplified by PCR, and the deduced sequences of the correspondent peptides were compared with other species sequences. Both the 183 amino acid sequence from PPARalpha and the 103 amino acid sequence from PPARbeta shared high levels of homology with the correspondent peptides of other fishes and terrestrial vertebrates, whereas PPARgamma 108 amino acid sequence showed much less similarity with non-fish PPARgamma. According to both semi-quantitative RT-PCR and real-time RT-PCR, PPARalpha mRNA predominates in white muscle, heart and liver and PPARbeta is more expressed in testis, heart, liver, white muscle and trunk kidney. PPARgamma was only detected in trunk kidney and liver by real-time RT-PCR and also in spleen by semi-quantitative RT-PCR. PPARbeta seems to be the most strongly expressed isotype, whereas PPARgamma shows a much weaker global expression.
    Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 12/2005; 1731(2):88-94. · 4.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pale-grey cells appeared in the livers of healthy and non-stressed brown trout Salmo trutta 3 weeks post-hatching whereas interhepatocytic macrophages appeared at 5 months. Cells with intermediate morphological characteristics between those of pale-grey cells and macrophages were identified in all ages studies. Cell ultrastructure supported the idea that pale-grey cells probably belonged to the macrophage lineage, being eventual precursors of the active phagocytes residing amongst hepatocytes.
    Journal of Fish Biology 04/2005; 60(6):1381 - 1390. · 1.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Iron overload in the liver may occur in clinical conditions such as hemochromatosis and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, and may lead to the deterioration of the normal liver architecture by mechanisms not well understood. Although a relationship between the expression of ICAM-1, and classical major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules, and iron overload has been reported, no relationship has been identified between iron overload and the expression of unconventional MHC class I molecules. Herein, we report that parameters of iron metabolism were regulated in a coordinated-fashion in a human hepatoma cell line (HepG2 cells) after iron loading, leading to increased cellular oxidative stress and growth retardation. Iron loading of HepG2 cells resulted in increased expression of Nor3.2-reactive CD1d molecules at the plasma membrane. Expression of classical MHC class I and II molecules, ICAM-1 and the epithelial CD8 ligand, gp180 was not significantly affected by iron. Considering that intracellular lipids regulate expression of CD1d at the cell surface, we examined parameters of lipid metabolism in iron-loaded HepG2 cells. Interestingly, increased expression of CD1d molecules by iron-loaded HepG2 cells was associated with increased phosphatidylserine expression in the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane and the presence of many intracellular lipid droplets. These data describe a new relationship between iron loading, lipid accumulation and altered expression of CD1d, an unconventional MHC class I molecule reported to monitor intracellular and plasma membrane lipid metabolism, in the human hepatoma cell line HepG2.
    FEBS Journal 02/2005; 272(1):152-65. · 4.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Host factors that may influence progression of hepatitis C infection to chronic hepatitis include T-cell responses and iron accumulation. We evaluated the hepatic expression of immunological markers relevant for a cytotoxic response in relation to viral and HFE genotype. Frozen liver biopsies were obtained at diagnosis from 28 HFE genotyped patients. Sections stained for CD8, MHC-I, beta(2)m, HFE and CD68 were analyzed blind by morphometry. Response to therapy was available in 12 cases. A negative correlation was found between the number of CD8(+) cells and fibrosis. CD8(+) cells localized as clusters in portal tracts and sinusoids and were seen interacting with MHC-I positive lining cells. MHC-I and beta(2)m were expressed mainly in the endothelial and Kupffer cells. HFE was expressed in most, but not all, round and dendritic CD68(+) cells. Patients with virus genotype 3a had higher hepatic MHC-I and HFE expression, and a better-sustained response to IFN therapy than other patients. In chronic hepatitis C virus infection MHC-I expression in the liver seems to relate to viral-genotype. In addition, the expression of MHC-I molecules by Kupffer cells places them as probable important players in the host response to HCV.
    Journal of Hepatology 09/2004; 41(2):319-26. · 9.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Variability in T-lymphocyte numbers is partially explained by a genetic regulation. From studies in animal models, it is known that the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) is involved in this regulation. In humans, this has not been shown yet. The objective of the present study was to test the hypothesis that genes in the MHC region influence the regulation of T-lymphocyte numbers. Two approaches were used. Association studies between T-cell counts (CD4(+) and CD8(+)) or total lymphocyte counts and HLA class I alleles (A and B) or mutations in the HFE (C282Y and H63D), the hemochromatosis gene, in an unrelated population (n = 264). A second approach was a sibpair correlation analysis of the same T-cell counts in relation to HLA-HFE haplotypes in subjects belonging to 48 hemochromatosis families (n = 456 sibpairs). In the normal population, results showed a strong statistically significant association of the HLA-A*01 with high numbers of CD8(+) T cells and a less powerful association with the HLA-A*24 with low numbers of CD8(+) T cells. Sibpair correlations revealed the most significant correlation for CD8(+) T-cell numbers for sibpairs with HLA-HFE-identical haplotypes. This was not observed for CD4(+) T cells. These results show that the MHC region is involved in the genetic regulation of CD8(+) T-cell numbers in humans. Identification of genes responsible for this control may have important biological and clinical implications.
    Tissue Antigens 08/2004; 64(1):25-34. · 2.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Beta2-microglobulin knockout (beta2m-/-) mice represent an instructive model of spontaneous iron overload resembling genetic hemochromatosis. The mechanism of iron accumulation in this mouse model may be more complex than involving the MHC class I-like protein HFE. We report that beta2m-deficient mice, like Hfe-/- mice, lack the adaptive hepatic hepcidin mRNA increase to iron overload. The inverse correlation of hepatic iron levels and hepcidin mRNA expression in six beta2m-/- mice underlines the importance of hepcidin in regulating body iron stores. In contrast to Hfe-/- mice, beta2m-deficient mice display increased expression of the duodenal iron transporters DMT1 and ferroportin 1. This result implicates a broader role of beta2m in mammalian iron metabolism, suggesting that (an) additional beta2m-interacting protein(s) could be involved in controlling iron homeostasis, and highlighting the emerging connection of iron metabolism with the immune system.
    Blood Cells Molecules and Diseases 01/2004; 33(2):125-31. · 2.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) is classically associated with a Cys282Tyr (C282Y) mutation of the HFE gene. Non-C282Y HH is a heterogeneous group accounting for 15% of HH in Northern Europe. Pathogenic mutations of the transferrin receptor 2 (TfR2) gene have been identified in 4 Italian pedigrees with the latter syndrome. The goal of this study was to perform a mutational analysis of the TfR2 and HFE genes in a cohort of non-C282Y iron overload patients of mixed ethnic backgrounds. Several sequence variants were identified within the TfR2 gene, including a homozygous missense change in exon 17, c2069 A-->C, which changes a glutamine to a proline residue at position 690. This putative mutation was found in a severely affected Portuguese man and 2 family members with the same genotype. In summary, pathologic TfR2 mutations are present outside of Italy, accounting for a small proportion of non-C282Y HH.
    Blood 08/2002; 100(3):1075-7. · 9.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) shows a remarkable conservation of particular HLA antigens and haplotypes in linkage disequilibrium in most human populations, suggesting the existence of a convergent evolution. A recent example of such conservation is the association of particular HLA haplotypes with the HFE mutations. With the objective of exploring the significance of that association, the present paper offers an analysis of the linkage disequilibrium between HLA alleles or haplotypes and the HFE mutations in a Portuguese population. Allele and haplotype associations between HLA and HFE mutations were first reviewed in a population of 43 hemochromatosis families. The results confirmed the linkage disequilibrium of the HLA haplotype HLA-A3-B7 and the HLA-A29 allele, respectively, with the HFE mutations C282Y and H63D. In order to extend the study of the linkage disequilibrium between H63D and the HLA-A29-containing haplotypes in a normal, random population, an additional sample of 398 haplotypes was analyzed. The results reveal significant linkage disequilibrium between the H63D mutation and all HLA-A29-containing haplotypes, favoring the hypothesis of a co-selection of H63D and the HLA-A29 allele itself. An insight into the biological significance of this association is given by the finding of significantly higher CD8(+) T-lymphocyte counts in subjects simultaneously carrying the H63D mutation and the HLA-A29 allele.
    Immunogenetics 04/2002; 53(12):1002-8. · 2.89 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: An earlier study of reference values of iron parameters in Portugal showed significant differences between populations from northern and southern villages. This study addresses the question of the geographical distribution in Portugal of the two main mutations (C282Y and H63D) of the hereditary hemochromatosis gene, HFE. For that purpose, a stratified sample of 640 anonymous dried blood spot samples was randomly selected from the major regions of Portugal: North, Center, Lisbon and the Tagus Valley, Alentejo and Algarve. Differences in the geographical distribution of these two mutations were observed thus confirming the presumed differences between the age of the two mutations which is compatible with the postulated Celtic/Nordic origin of the C282Y mutation. The finding of a significantly higher allelic frequency of the C282Y mutation in the North (0.058) than in the South (0.009) could also point to an effect of differential selective forces acting in the different geographical areas of the country. Data on archaeological, ethnographic and linguistic records and on the North/South distribution of Portuguese cattle breeds of European or African origin have also been reported. In addition to their interest for population genetics, the results represent a reminder of the need to take into account regional differences in the design of strategies for population screening of hereditary hemochromatosis.
    European Journal of HumanGenetics 12/2001; 9(11):843-8. · 4.32 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Low CD8+ T lymphocyte numbers have contributed to deciphering the genotype/phenotype discrepancies found in hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) patients genotyped for the Hfe mutations, C282Y and H63D. In this study, we extend the analysis of T lymphocytes in HH to the T cell receptor (TcR) repertoire. Thirty-two HH patients (C282Y homozygous) and 274 Hfe genotyped healthy subjects were studied. The following TcR chains were analyzed: Vα2.3, Vβ5.1, Vβ5.2, Vβ5.3, Vβ6.7, Vβ8, and Vβ12 among the CD4+ and CD8+ populations. Lymphopenias and absence of expansions of the Vβ5.2 and Vβ12 chains in the CD8+ pool were seen in controls heterozygous for the C282Y mutation. Expansions in the control group were seen within the CD8+ pool and were rare/absent within the CD4+ pool. TcR expansions were found more frequent in patients with iron overload related pathology than in patients without pathology. 9/16 of the patients with pathology have at least one expansion among the CD8+ pool a number significantly higher compared with patients without pathology (1/16). These findings suggest that Hfe has an effect in the shaping of T-cell populations either directly, as indicated by the lymphopenia seen in the two chains in C282Y heterozygous without iron overload, or indirectly by contributing to iron overload pathology.
    Human Immunology 06/2001; · 2.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Despite heavy alcohol consumption, only a low percentage of heavy drinkers develop liver disease. Imbalances in T-cell subsets and iron metabolism parameters are common findings in heavy drinkers, yet the possible role played by discrete T-lymphocyte subsets under heavy alcohol consumption remains unclear. To gain new insights into the possible role played by T lymphocytes during alcohol consumption, characterization of CD28 expression and TcR repertoire in peripheral blood CD4+ and CD8+ T cells by two and three-color flow cytometry was performed. A group of heavy alcohol drinkers (AHD, n = 71) and a group of age-matched controls (n = 81), both HLA-phenotyped and HFE-genotyped, constituted the groups under study. Marked expansions of CD28- T cells within the CD8+ but not the CD4+ T-cell pool were observed in AHD compared with controls. These CD8+CD28- expansions were paralleled by expansions of CD8+ T cells bearing specific TcR Valpha/beta chains, namely VP5.2. Moreover, AHD, but not controls, carrying the H63D mutation in the HFE gene showed significantly higher percentages of CD28- T cells within the CD8+ T-cell pool than AHD carrying the normal HFE gene. Finally, high numbers of CD8+CD28- T cells in AHD were associated with lower levels of the liver-related enzymes ALT and GGT. This study showed that under active ethanol consumption, expansions of discrete CD8+ T-cell subsets occur within the CD8+ T-cell pool, that molecules of the MHC-class I locus seem to influence the extent of the expansions, and that high numbers of CD8+CD28- T cells are associated with low levels of liver enzymes in AHD.
    Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 05/2000; 24(4):519-27. · 3.42 Impact Factor
  • Alcoholism-clinical and Experimental Research - ALCOHOL CLIN EXP RES. 01/2000; 24(4):519-527.

Publication Stats

322 Citations
75.04 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2000–2011
    • Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology
      Oporto, Porto, Portugal
  • 2006
    • University of Porto
      • Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology
      Porto, Distrito do Porto, Portugal
  • 2004
    • Instituto de Ciencias
      Santa Clara de Portugal, Michoacán, Mexico
    • European Molecular Biology Laboratory
      Heidelburg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany