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Am J Pathol. 2012 Jul;181(1):19-25. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2012.03.036. Epub 2012 May 24.

Suppression of furin by interferon-γ and the impact on hepatitis B virus antigen biosynthesis in human hepatocytes.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.


The roles of furin and intrahepatic cytokines in chronic heptatitis B virus (HBV) infection remain largely unknown. Here, we examined the relations between furin, IL-10, IL-12β, interferon (IFN)-γ, programed death (PD)-1, programed death ligand (PD-L)1, and the suppression of hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) and surface antigen (HBsAg) biosynthesis. Liver biopsies were performed on 20 chronically HBV-infected (15 HBeAg-positive and 5 HBeAg-negative) patients to assess liver inflammation/fibrosis, and mRNA levels of furin, IL-10, IL-12β, IFN-γ, PD-1, and PD-L1 were assessed by quantitative real-time PCR. IFN-γ mRNA abundance was associated with lower furin mRNA levels and higher PD-1 and PD-L1 mRNA levels in liver tissue from HBeAg-positive patients. IL-10 and IL-12β mRNA levels positively correlated with IFN-γ expression levels (P < 0.05). PD-L1 and furin mRNA levels were further assessed in IFN-γ-stimulated hepatoma cell lines with (HepG2.2.15 cells) and without (HepG2 and Huh7 cells) HBV replication. IFN-γ enhanced PD-L1 expression in hepatoma cells. In HepG2.2.15 cells, IFN-γ further suppressed furin and HBeAg expression. Furin inhibition and knockdown in HepG2.2.15 cells also down-regulated HBeAg and HBsAg biosynthesis. These data suggest that IFN-γ modulates the inflammatory response to avoid excessive hepatocyte damage through the enhancement of PD-1/PD-L1 expression, whereas furin suppression may contribute to a reduction in HBeAg/HBsAg biosynthesis.

Copyright © 2012 American Society for Investigative Pathology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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