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Immunol Rev. 2000 Apr;174:192-209.

Pathophysiological roles of interleukin-18 in inflammatory liver diseases.

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Department of Immunology and Medical Zoology, Hyogo College of Medicine, Nishinomiya, Japan.


Innate immune response to microbes sometimes determines the nature of the following specific immune response. Kupffer cells, a potent constituent of innate immunity, play a key role in developing the type 1 immune response by interleukin (IL)-12 production. Furthermore, Kupffer cells have the potential to induce liver injury by production of IL-18. Propionibacterium acnes-primed lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-challenged liver injury is the prototype of IL-18-induced tissue injury, in which IL-18 acts on natural killer cells to increase Fas ligand (FasL) that causes liver injury by induction of Fas-dependent hepatocyte apoptosis. LPS induces IL-18 secretion from Kupffer cells in a caspase-1-dependent manner. Indeed, caspase-1-deficient mice are resistant to P. acnes and LPS-induced liver injury. However, administration of soluble FasL induces acute liver injury in P. acnes-primed caspase-1-deficient mice but does not do so in IL-18-deficient mice, indicating that IL-18 release in a caspase-1-independent fashion is essential for this liver injury. Therefore, a positive feedback loop between FasL and IL-18 plays an important role in the pathogenesis of endotoxin-induced liver injury.

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