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Curr Mol Med. 2003 Sep;3(6):545-59.

Cytokine-induced inflammatory liver injuries.

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Hyogo College of Medicine, Nishinomiya 663-8501, Japan.


IL-18 is a pleiotropic cytokine and is produced by various types of cells including activated macrophages, particularly Kupffer cells. IL-18 has potential to activate inflammatory responses through induction of IFN-gamma production in collaboration with IL-12. Somewhat paradoxically, IL-18 also has the capacity to induce allergic responses via induction of IL-4 production by T helper cells and to activate mast cells and basophils to release atopic effector molecules such as histamine. Indeed, IL-18 is involved in inflammatory tissue injuries, such as Crohn's disease and atherosclerosis, and also in hyper IgE and atopic dermatitis. IL-18 is particularly important for induction of experimental liver diseases. Endotoxin-induced liver injury or Fas ligand-induced hepatitis is caused by endogenous IL-18 in mice. Moreover, patients with liver diseases such as fulminant hepatitis, liver cirrhosis due to hepatitis virus infection and primary biliary cirrhosis show elevation of serum levels of IL-18, that correlates with the corresponding disease severity. Therefore, endogenous IL-18 plays a major role in induction of some types of liver injuries in mice and human. NKT cells that express both T cell receptor and NK cell marker are abundant in the liver of mice and human. Recent studies have revealed that NKT cells participate in some types of liver injuries, such as concanavalin A-induced T cell-mediated hepatitis and malaria hepatitis. In this review article, we focus on IL-18-involving liver damages and NKT-cell-mediated liver injuries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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