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Hepatology. 2011 Aug;54(2):597-608. doi: 10.1002/hep.24420. Epub 2011 Jun 26.

Toll-like receptor 4 and myeloid differentiation factor 88 provide mechanistic insights into the cause and effects of interleukin-6 activation in mouse liver regeneration.

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Department of Pathology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Partial hepatectomy (PH) consistently results in an early increase of circulating interleukin-6 (IL-6), which is thought to play a major role in liver regeneration. Activation of this cytokine after PH requires the adaptor protein, MyD88, but the specific MyD88-related receptors involved remain unidentified. It is also unknown whether the magnitude of IL-6 elevation determines the extent of subsequent hepatocyte proliferation. Here, we uncovered artifacts in the assessment of circulating IL-6 levels when using cardiac puncture in mice after PH. By using retro-orbital bleed sampling, we show that the circulating levels of IL-6 after PH were not directly correlated with the extent of hepatocyte DNA synthesis in individual mice. The IL-6 increase after PH was attenuated in all lipopolysaccharide-hyporesponsive mouse strains studied (e.g., C3H/HeJ, Tlr4 null, Cd14 null, Tlr2,4,9 null, and Tlr2,4-Caspase1 null) and was severely abrogated in Myd88 null mice. Despite attenuated IL-6 levels, Tlr4 null mice showed normal signaling downstream of IL-6 and normal hepatocyte proliferation. In contrast, Myd88 null mice showed severe impairments in signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 phosphorylation and Socs3 induction, but had enhanced and prolonged extracellular signal-related kinase 1 and 2 phosphorylation in the first 6 hours after PH. Unexpectedly, these changes were associated with accelerated initiation of hepatocyte proliferation, as assessed by hepatocyte bromodeoxyuridine incorporation, phospho-histone H3 immunostaining, and cyclin E and A protein expression.


TLR-4 signaling contributes to IL-6 activation after PH, but the Tlr4-independent component appears sufficient for ensuring intact signaling downstream of IL-6. The lack of correlation between IL-6 levels and hepatocyte proliferation after PH, and the accelerated start of hepatocyte proliferation in Myd88 null mice despite abrogated cytokine activation, may highlight relevant antiproliferative effects of IL-6 signaling, possibly via Socs3, in the regulation of liver regeneration.

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