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Cellular & molecular immunology

Interleukin-33 drives hepatic fibrosis through activation of hepatic stellate cells.


PMID 28194023

Abstract

Liver fibrosis is a consequence of chronic liver disease, causing morbidity and mortality. Interleukin-33 (IL-33) is a critical mediator of inflammation, which may be involved in the development of liver fibrosis. Here, we investigated the role of IL-33 in human patients and experimental bile-duct ligation (BDL)-induced fibrosis in mice. We report increased hepatic IL-33 expression in the murine BDL model of fibrosis and in surgical samples obtained from patients with liver fibrosis. Liver injury, inflammatory cell infiltration and fibrosis were reduced in the absence of the IL-33/ST2 receptor, and the activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) was decreased in ST2-deficient mice. Recombinant IL-33 activated HSCs isolated from C57BL/6 mice, leading to the expression of IL-6, TGF-β, α-SMA and collagen, which was abrogated in the absence of ST2 or by pharmacological inhibition of MAPK signaling. Finally, administration of recombinant IL-33 significantly increased hepatic inflammation in sham-operated BL6 mice but did not enhance BDL-induced hepatic inflammation and fibrosis. In conclusion, BDL-induced liver inflammation and fibrosis are dependent on ST2 signaling in HSCs, and therefore, the IL-33/ST2 pathway may be a potential therapeutic target in human patients with chronic hepatitis and liver fibrosis.

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