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Lab Invest. 2010 Aug;90(8):1169-78. doi: 10.1038/labinvest.2010.75. Epub 2010 Apr 5.

Blockade of interleukin-6 signaling enhances hepatic steatosis but improves liver injury in methionine choline-deficient diet-fed mice.

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Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Kyoto, Japan.


Inflammatory processes have an important role in the development of hepatic steatosis and progression to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is known to be a proinflammatory cytokine, but also promotes liver regeneration and protects the liver against various forms of damage. The role of IL-6/Glycoprotein 130 (GP130) in NASH remains unclear. In this study, we determined whether blocking IL-6/GP130 signaling prevents progression of steatohepatitis in a mouse NASH model. Six-week-old male C57/BL6 mice were fed either chow control or a methionine choline-deficient (MCD) diet for 8 weeks. Half of the MCD diet-fed mice were treated with 15 mg/kg rat anti-mouse IL-6 receptor antibody (MR16-1), intraperitoneally twice weekly, the remainder and chow-fed mice were injected with 15 mg/kg rat IgG as a control. Hepatic steatosis, injury, fibrosis, apoptosis, markers of lipid peroxidation/oxidant stress and IL-6-related gene expressions were evaluated. MR16-1 treatment decreased signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 activities and expression of suppressor of cytokine signaling 3 in MCD diet-treated mouse livers. Although this treatment enhanced intrahepatic lipid accumulation accompanied by increased sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1 and decreased peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha expression, elevated plasma alanine aminotransferase levels were improved with decreased plasma free fatty acid levels, lipid peroxidation/oxidant stress and hepatic apoptosis. Blocking IL-6/GP130 signaling by MR16-1 enhanced MCD diet-induced hepatic steatosis, but ameliorated liver injury. These findings suggest that hepatic IL-6 signaling has a protective role against the progression of hepatic steatosis but may enhance liver inflammation.

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