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Logo of jcinvestThe Journal of Clinical InvestigationCurrent IssueArchiveSubscriptionAbout the Journal
J Clin Invest. Sep 15, 1999; 104(6): 777–785.
PMCID: PMC408441

An IL-13 inhibitor blocks the development of hepatic fibrosis during a T-helper type 2–dominated inflammatory response


In schistosomiasis, chronic parasite egg–induced granuloma formation can lead to tissue destruction and fibrosis, which causes much of the morbidity and mortality associated with this disease. Here we show the importance of IL-13 in the pathogenesis of schistosomiasis, and demonstrate, perhaps for the first time, the therapeutic efficacy of an IL-13 inhibitor, sIL-13Rα2-Fc, in the control of hepatic fibrosis. T-helper type 2 (Th2) cytokines dominate the immune response in mice infected with Schistosoma mansoni, yet the specific contributions of IL-13 and IL-4 to the development of fibrosis were not previously investigated. Our studies demonstrate that both cytokines play redundant roles in granuloma formation, which explains the ability of IL-4–deficient mice to form granulomas around eggs. More importantly, however, these studies demonstrate that IL-13 is the dominant Th2-type cytokine regulating fibrosis. IL-13 stimulated collagen production in fibroblasts, and procollagen I and procollagen III mRNA expression was decreased in sIL-13Rα2-Fc–treated mice. Moreover, the reduction in fibrosis observed in IL-4–deficient mice was much less pronounced than that in sIL-13Rα2-Fc–treated animals. Fibrosis is a major pathological manifestation of a number of allergic, autoimmune, and infectious diseases. Thus, our findings provide evidence that IL-13 inhibitors may be of general therapeutic benefit in preventing damaging tissue fibrosis resulting from Th2-dominated inflammatory responses.

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