Rambam Grand Rounds

The Role of FGL2 in the Pathogenesis and Treatment of Hepatitis C Virus Infection

Itay Shalev, Nazia Selzner, Ahmed Helmy, Katharina Foerster, Oyedele A. Adeyi, David R. Grant, and Gary Levy


Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a leading cause of liver disease worldwide and remains the most common indication for liver transplantation. The current standard of care leads to a sustained vir-al response of roughly 50% of treated patients at best. Furthermore, anti-viral therapy is expensive, pro-longed, and associated with serious side-effects. Evidence suggests that a poor response to treatment may be the result of a suppressed anti-viral immunity due to the presence of increased numbers and activity of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Treg cells). We and others have recently identified fi-brinogen-like protein 2 (FGL2) as a putative effector of Treg cells, which accounts for their suppressive function through binding to Fc gamma receptors (FcγR). In an experimental model of fulminant viral hepatitis, our laboratory showed that increased plasma levels of FGL2 pre- and post-viral infection were predictive of susceptibility and severity of disease. Moreover, treatment with antibody to FGL2 fully protected susceptible animals from the lethality of the virus, and adoptive transfer of wild-type Treg cells into resistant fgl2-deficient animals accelerated their mortality post-infection. In patients with HCV infection, plasma levels of FGL2 and expression of FGL2 in the liver correlated with the course and severity of the disease. Collectively, these studies suggest that FGL2 may be used as a biomarker to pre-dict disease progression in HCV patients and be a logical target for the development of novel therapeu-tic approaches for the treatment of patients with HCV infection.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2010;1(1):e0004