The proportions of T and B lymphocytes in the liver infiltrates of 23 patients with chronic active hepatitis have been determined. The results were compared with the values obtained from peripheral blood and with the presence of HB virus markers and alpha-fetoprotein in liver tissue. A group of patients with chronic liver disease other than chronic active hepatitis were studied as controls. In chronic active hepatitis the percentage of hepatic T cells was 49 +/- 8 SD (control patients 61 +/- 8) (P less than 0.01), whereas the percentage of B cells was 40 +/- 10 (control patients 18 +/- 8) (P less than 0.01). No correlation was observed between hepatic T and B cells and the presence of HB virus. The numbers of T cells in liver tissue was significantly higher, the numbers of B cells lower, in patients whose biopsies were positive for alpha-fetoprotein than in those whose biopsies were negative. In peripheral blood, only the patients with chronic active hepatitis and established cirrhosis presented lower absolute values of T cells, whereas surface immunoglobulin-positive lymphocytes were within the normal range.
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