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J Immunol. 2004 May 15;172(10):6453-9.

Antiviral cytokines induce hepatic expression of the granzyme B inhibitors, proteinase inhibitor 9 and serine proteinase inhibitor 6.

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  • 1Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75390, USA.


Expression of the granzyme B inhibitors, human proteinase inhibitor 9 (PI-9), or the murine orthologue, serine proteinase inhibitor 6 (SPI-6), confers resistance to CTL or NK killing by perforin- and granzyme-dependent effector mechanisms. In light of prior studies indicating that virally infected hepatocytes are selectively resistant to this CTL effector mechanism, the present studies investigated PI-9 and SPI-6 expression in hepatocytes and hepatoma cells in response to adenoviral infection and to cytokines produced during antiviral immune responses. Neither PI-9 nor SPI-6 expression was detected by immunoblotting in uninfected murine or human hepatocytes. Similarly, human Huh-7 hepatoma cells were found to express only very low levels of PI-9 relative to levels detected in perforin- and granzyme-resistant CTL or lymphokine-activated killer cells. Following in vivo adenoviral infection or in vitro culture with IFN-alphabeta or IFN-gamma, SPI-6 expression was induced in murine hepatocytes. Similarly, after culture with IFN-alpha, induction of PI-9 mRNA and protein expression was observed in human hepatocytes and Huh-7 cells. IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha also induced 4- to 10-fold higher levels of PI-9 mRNA expression in Huh-7 cells, whereas levels of mRNA encoding a related serine proteinase inhibitor, proteinase inhibitor 8, were unaffected by culture of Huh-7 cells with IFN-alpha, IFN-gamma, or TNF-alpha. These findings indicate that cytokines that promote antiviral cytopathic responses also regulate expression of the cytoprotective molecules, PI-9 and SPI-6, in hepatocytes that are potential targets of CTL and NK effector mechanisms.

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