The discovery, published in the latest issue of Immunity, identified peculiar characteristics of Kupffer 2 cells, which differentiate them from "conventional" ones. Thanks to the use of sophisticated RNA sequencing and cytometry techniques for the analysis of cell receptors, the researchers have in fact discovered the Kupffer 2 cells, once stimulated by interleukin-2, are able to expose on their surface fragments of the hepatitis B virus to trigger the lymphocyte response (a mechanism known as antigen cross-presentation).
On the contrary, we know that “conventional” Kupffer cells are not efficient in this process: chronic viral hepatitis could also be due to this inefficiency. So far the study has been carried out in the liver of an animal model, however, cells with genetic characteristics similar to murine Kupffer 2 cells have recently also been identified in humans. If these cells had the same peculiarities described in the mouse, it would be possible to hypothesize to stimulate them, for example through interleukin-2, as a therapy for chronic forms of hepatitis B.