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J Hepatol. 2011 Nov;55(5):1086-94. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2011.01.048. Epub 2011 Feb 24.

Lack of interleukin-1α or interleukin-1β inhibits transformation of steatosis to steatohepatitis and liver fibrosis in hypercholesterolemic mice.

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The Bert W. Strassburger Lipid Center, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel.



The identification of the cellular and molecular pathways that mediate the development of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is of crucial importance. Cytokines produced by liver-resident and infiltrating inflammatory cells, play a pivotal role in liver inflammation. The role of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1α and IL-1β in steatohepatitis remains elusive.


We employed IL-1α and IL-1β-deficient mice and transplanted marrow cells to study the role of liver-resident and bone marrow-derived IL-1 in steatosis and its progression to steatohepatitis.


Atherogenic diet-induced steatohepatitis in wild-type mice was associated with 16 and 4.6 fold-elevations in mRNA levels of hepatic IL-1α and IL-1β, respectively. In mice deficient in either IL-1α or IL-1β the transformation of steatosis to steatohepatitis and liver fibrosis was markedly reduced. This protective effect in IL-1α-deficient mice was noted despite increased liver cholesterol levels. Deficiency of IL-1α markedly reduced plasma serum amyloid A and steady-state levels of mRNA coding for inflammatory genes (P-selectin, CXCL1, IL-6, and TNFα) as well as pro-fibrotic genes (MMP-9 and Collagen) and particularly a 50% decrease in TGFβ levels (p = 0.004). IL-1α mRNA levels were two-folds lower in IL-1β-deficient mice, and IL-1β transcripts were three-folds lower in IL-1α-deficient compared to wild-type mice. Hepatic cell derived IL-1α rather than from recruited bone marrow-derived cells was required for steatohepatitis development.


These data demonstrate the critical role of IL-1α and IL-1β in the transformation of steatosis to steatohepatitis and liver fibrosis in hypercholesterolemic mice. Therefore, the potential of neutralizing IL-1α and/or IL-1β to inhibit the development of steatohepatitis should be explored.

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