Background: Natural killer (NK) cells are dichotomously involved in chronic hepatitis B (CHB) infection as principal members of innate immunity. An effective treatment should enhance the antiviral potentials of NK cells and not their immunomodulatory roles. TIM-3 (T-cell immunoglobulin and mucin-containing domain) is a molecule with an essential role in controlling immune tolerance. TIM-3 demonstrated the highest expression among NK cells of patients with chronic liver disorders. Statins have been reported to attenuate the levels of TIM-3 on NK cells.
Objectives: To investigate the frequencies of NK cells, NKT cells, and TIM-3+ population in patients with CHB upon rosuvastatin (RSV) intervention.
Methods: Thirty confirmed patients with CHB were randomly assigned into two groups of 15 (receiving 20 mg of RSV or placebo per day) for 12 weeks. We evaluated the percentages of TIM-3+ cells by staining the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with CD3, CD16, and CD56 markers using flow cytometry.
Results: Our findings indicated that RSV administration could increase CD3- CD56+ NK cells (P>0.05) and CD3+ CD16+ CD56+ NKT cells (P<0.05). RSV intervention could reduce the percentages of TIM-3+ cells among NK cells (P<0.01) and NKT cells (P> 0.05) of patients with CHB compared with the placebo group.
Conclusions: The increased population of NK and NKT cells and the effective reduction of TIM-3+ cells among patients with CHB delineated that rosuvastatin could be proposed as an appropriate modulator of innate immune response (regarding NK and NKT cells) in favor of enhancing their antiviral activities.