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J Immunol. 1995 Jul 1;155(1):308-15.

Expression of functional receptors for human C5a anaphylatoxin (CD88) on the human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line HepG2. Stimulation of acute-phase protein-specific mRNA and protein synthesis by human C5a anaphylatoxin.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Acute inflammation is characterized by increased production of acute phase proteins in the liver. The induction of the hepatocytic response is primarily mediated through soluble cytokines such as IL-1, IL-6, TNF-alpha, and transforming growth factor beta, which bind to specific cell surface receptors and regulate gene expression of acute-phase proteins. Hepatoma cell lines, such as HepG2, represent a model system for studying acute-phase protein synthesis. HepG2 is induced to produce a variety of acute-phase proteins, including alpha 1-antitrypsin, alpha 1-antichymotrypsin, fibrinogen, alpha 1-acid glycoprotein, and haptoglobin, upon stimulation with cytokines. Analysis of HepG2 by reverse transcriptase PCR indicated that this cell line synthesized mRNA specific for the human C5a receptor (CD88). Flow cytometric analysis of HepG2 cells indicated that these cells bound anti-CD88 Ab, thus confirming our RT-PCR data by demonstrating that these cells also express the C5a receptor. Because C5a has been shown to be a potent mediator of inflammation and HepG2 cells express CD88, we assessed the possibility that C5a was capable of stimulating acute-phase protein synthesis by HepG2 cells. The results indicate that binding of human C5a to CD88 on HepG2 cells resulted in an increased production of alpha 1-antitrypsin- and alpha 1-antichymotrypsin-specific mRNA as assayed by RT-PCR. Analysis of culture supernatants derived from C5a-stimulated HepG2 cells showed an increased production of alpha 1-antitrypsin as measured by solid-phase ELISA. alpha 1-antitrypsin production by HepG2 cells was a direct result of C5a stimulation as evidenced by the fact that anti-C5a receptor Ab inhibited the response. These results suggest that C5a may be an important mediator of APP production in the regulation of the inflammatory response.

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