Bidirectional interaction between immune and nervous systems is considered an important biological process in health and disease. However, little is known about the mechanisms involved in their interaction in the human liver. This study examines the distribution of intrahepatic NPY, SP immunoreactive (IR) nerve fibers and their antomical relationship with immunocells containing tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) in patients with autoimmune hepatitis. Liver specimens were obtained from control liver and autoimmune hepatitis patients. The immunoreactivity was determined by immunohisto- and immunocytochemistry and confocal laser microscopy. In hepatitis, the number of NPY-IR and SP-IR nerve fibers increased significantly. These IR nerve fibers were in very close contact with the lymphocytes. In healthy controls, no NPY-IR, SP-IR or NF-κB IR lymphocytes and only a few TNF-α positive cells, were observed. In hepatitis, some of the lymphocytes showed immunoreactivity for SP and NPY in the portal area. Fluorescent double-labeled immunostaining revealed that in these cells NPY did not colocalize with TNF-α or NF-κB. However, some of the SP fluorescence-positive immune cells exhibited immunostaining for p65 of NF-κB, where their labeling was detected in the nuclei. Under the electronmicroscope, these cells could be identified (lymphocytes, plasmacells and mast cells). The gap between the IR nerve fibers and immunocells was 1 μm or even less. Overexpression of SP in lymphocytes may amplify local inflammation, while NPY may contribute to liver homeostasis in hepatitis. Neural immunomodulation (SP antagonists and NPY) might be a novel therapeutic concept in the management of liver inflammation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Cell Biology