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Liver Int. 2012 Mar;32(3):370-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1478-3231.2011.02608.x. Epub 2011 Jul 29.

Role of stress-induced NKG2D ligands in liver diseases.

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University Clinic Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.


Cell death by apoptosis is a prominent feature in a variety of liver diseases. It is likely that apoptosis is the initial cellular response to hepatocyte and biliary injury, which then leads to the initiation of cellular and cytokine cascades culminating in hepatocyte death with subsequent fibrosis and cirrhosis. This sequence of events is of paramount clinical importance. Recently, soluble forms of the major histocompatibility complex class I-related chains A and closely related B (MIC A and B) were reported to be increased in patients with a variety of liver diseases. MIC A and B are cell surface glycoproteins that function as indicators for cellular stress and thus activate circulating cytotoxic natural killer (NK) cells. The interaction between MIC A and B with their cognate receptor natural killer group 2 member D (NKG2D) culminates in enhanced liver cell death, which is mediated in part by apoptotic mechanisms. The present overview focuses on the role of the stress-induced NKG2D ligands MIC A and B in diverse liver diseases. Critical insights into these complex relations may help to promote rationally based therapies in liver diseases. Importantly, we hope that this overview will help to stimulate further studies into mechanisms by which stress ligands mediate cell death and its sequale.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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