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Hepatology. 2003 Nov;38(5):1116-24.

Role of Valpha 14 NKT cells in the development of impaired liver regeneration in vivo.

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First Department of Internal Medicine, Gifu University School of Medicine, Gifu, Japan.


Although we have previously demonstrated that IL-12 stimulation increases the number of hepatic natural killer (NK) T (NKT) cells and enhances liver injury during the early phase of liver regeneration, the role of NKT cells has remained unknown. We therefore evaluated the influence of NKT cells activated by IL-12 or by alpha-galactosylceramide (alpha-GalCer) on murine liver regeneration using Valpha 14 NKT knockout (Jalpha 281(-/-)) mice. Levels of serum alanine aminotransferase (sALT) 24 hours after partial hepatectomy were enhanced in Jalpha 281(+/+) but not in Jalpha 281(-/-) mice by both procedures. Hepatic NKT cells expressed considerably more interferon (IFN) gamma and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) messenger RNA (mRNA) after stimulation with both factors in Jalpha 281(+/+) mice. Either anti-IFN-gamma or TNF-alpha antibody inhibited the enhancement of liver injury. Furthermore, recombinant TNF-alpha injection similarly caused injury in hepatectomized livers of both Jalpha 281(+/+) and Jalpha 281(-/-) mice; indeed, adoptively transferred TNF-alpha(+/+) NKT cells enhanced liver injury after hepatectomy in TNF-alpha knockout mice. TNF receptor expressions on hepatocytes increased and peaked 24 hours after partial hepatectomy. In conclusion, simultaneous TNF-alpha synthesis and high levels of TNF receptor expression on hepatocytes cause severe liver damage by activated NKT cells during liver regeneration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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