INTRODUCTION: Liver regeneration is a heterogeneous process involving proliferation of different cell types in response to injury. Bone marrow derived stem cells may be involved in this process, by making contribution to parenchymal restoration and cellular replacement. We aimed to investigate the correlation between level of circulating mobilized CD34+ hematopoietic stem progenitor cells (HSPCs) and viremia level in patients chronically infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV).
METHODS: Blood samples were prospectively collected for assessing percentage and absolute counts of circulating CD34+ HSPCs and viral load level using flow cytometry and RT-PCR respectively. Patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) (n = 30), Entecavir (ETV) treated subjects (n = 30) and 20 age and gender matched healthy controls were enrolled in this study. Results were expressed as mean ± SD.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: A significant increase in circulating CD34+ HSPCs level was observed in CHB patients (5 ± 3.1, 324 ± 195 × 103/ml) as compared to ETV treated subjects (0.57 ± 0.27,1022 ± 325) and healthy controls (0.53 ± 0.37, 694 ± 254, P < 0.001) in regards to percentage and absolute counts respectively. Levels of CD34+ HSPCs strongly and positively correlated with HBV DNA viral load levels in CHB patients (r2 = 0.8417, 0.649, P < 0.001).Thus, in chronic liver disorders (CHB), when reduced regenerative capacity of hepatocytes is reached, BMSCs mobilization occurs and their level increases in peripheral blood. The level of circulating CD34+ cells in peripheral blood of CHB patients paralleled with the hepatitis B viral load.