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J Hepatol. 2007 Feb;46(2):295-303. Epub 2006 Nov 3.

IFN-gamma abrogates profibrogenic TGF-beta signaling in liver by targeting expression of inhibitory and receptor Smads.

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  • 1Institute of Infectious Diseases, The First Affiliated Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, People's Republic of China.



In a randomized open-labeled multicenter trial with patients suffering from chronic HBV infection, we recently identified a benefit of 9-month IFN-gamma treatment resulting in decreased fibrosis scores and a reduced number of alpha-smooth muscle actin-positive hepatic stellate cells (HSCs). Approaches opposing profibrogenic activities of TGF-beta may be amenable in chronic liver disease. According to experimental models, IFN-gamma counteracts several TGF-beta effects.


The crosstalk of IFN-gamma and TGF-beta signaling relevant for fibrogenesis was investigated in primary cultured rat HSCs and a cell line representing activated HSCs.


In vitro studies with HSCs demonstrate that TGF-beta-dependent activation of (CAGA)9-MLP-Luc, a Smad3/4 responsive reporter construct, was significantly decreased by IFN-gamma, indicating a TGF-beta antagonizing function. IFN-gamma induced the activity of the Smad7 promoter and Smad7 protein expression via STAT-1 signaling. In contrast to TGF-beta, IFN-gamma was able to induce Smad7 expression in activated HSCs providing increased protein levels for at least 12h. In addition, expression of Smad2/3 was reduced by IFN-gamma and activation of Smads2/3 was abrogated.


IFN-gamma displays antifibrotic effects in liver cells via STAT-1 phosphorylation, upregulation of Smad7 expression and impaired TGF-beta signaling.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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