IFN-γ deficiency attenuates hepatic inflammation and fibrosis in a steatohepatitis model induced by a methionine- and choline-deficient high-fat diet

Xiao-Yu Luo, Terumi Takahara, Kengo Kawai, Masayuki Fujino, Toshiro Sugiyama, Koichi Tsuneyama, Kazuhiro Tsukada, Susumu Nakae, Liang Zhong, Xiao-Kang Li
American Journal of Physiology. Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology 2013, 305 (12): G891-9
Cytokines play important roles in all stages of steatohepatitis, including hepatocyte injury, the inflammatory response, and the altered function of sinusoidal cells. This study examined the involvement of a major inflammatory cytokine, interferon-γ (IFN-γ), in the progression of steatohepatitis. In a steatohepatitis model by feeding a methionine- and choline-deficient high-fat (MCDHF) diet to both wild-type and IFN-γ-deficient mice, the liver histology, expression of genes encoding inflammatory cytokines, and fibrosis-related markers were examined. To analyze the effects of IFN-γ on Kupffer cells in vitro, we examined the tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) production by a mouse macrophage cell line. Forty two days of MCDHF diet resulted in weight loss, elevated aminotransferases, liver steatosis, and inflammation in wild-type mice. However, the IFN-γ-deficient mice exhibited less extensive changes. RT-PCR revealed that the expression of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), transforming growth factor-β, inducible nitric oxide synthase, interleukin-4 and osteopontin were increased in wild-type mice, although they were suppressed in IFN-γ-deficient mice. Seventy days of MCDHF diet induced much more liver fibrosis in wild-type mice than in IFN-γ-deficient mice. The expression levels of fibrosis-related genes, α-smooth muscle actin, type I collagen, tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase-1, and matrix metalloproteinase-2, were dramatically increased in wild-type mice, whereas they were significantly suppressed in IFN-γ-deficient mice. Moreover, in vitro experiments showed that, when RAW 264.7 macrophages were treated with IFN-γ, they produced TNF-α in a dose-dependent manner. The present study showed that IFN-γ deficiency might inhibit the inflammatory response of macrophages cells and subsequently suppress stellate cell activation and liver fibrosis. These findings highlight the critical role of IFN-γ in the progression of steatohepatitis.

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