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Int J Biol Sci. 2011;7(9):1273-86. Epub 2011 Oct 25.

Th2-associated alternative Kupffer cell activation promotes liver fibrosis without inducing local inflammation.

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Unidad de Medicina Experimental, Hospital General de México, México D.F. 06726, México.


Cirrhosis is the final outcome of liver fibrosis. Kupffer cell-mediated hepatic inflammation is considered to aggravate liver injury and fibrosis. Alternatively-activated macrophages are able to control chronic inflammatory events and trigger wound healing processes. Nevertheless, the role of alternative Kupffer cell activation in liver harm is largely unclear. Thus, we evaluated the participation of alternatively-activated Kupffer cells during liver inflammation and fibrosis in the murine model of carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatic damage. To stimulate alternative activation in Kupffer cells, 20 Taenia crassiceps (Tc) larvae were inoculated into BALBc/AnN female mice. Six weeks post-inoculation, carbon tetrachloride or olive oil were orally administered to Tc-inoculated and non-inoculated mice twice per week during other six weeks. The initial exposure of animals to T. crassiceps resulted in high serum concentrations of IL-4 accompanied by a significant increase in the hepatic mRNA levels of Ym-1, with no alteration in iNOS expression. In response to carbon tetrachloride, recruitment of inflammatory cell populations into the hepatic parenchyma was 5-fold higher in non-inoculated animals than Tc-inoculated mice. In contrast, carbon tetrachloride-induced liver fibrosis was significantly less in non-inoculated animals than in the Tc-inoculated group. The latter showed elevated IL-4 serum levels and low IFN-γ concentrations during the whole experiment, associated with hepatic expression of IL-4, TGF-β, desmin and α-sma, as well as increased mRNA levels of Arg-1, Ym-1, FIZZ-1 and MMR in Kupffer cells. These results suggest that alternative Kupffer cell activation is favored in a Th2 microenvironment, whereby such liver resident macrophages could exhibit a dichotomic role during chronic hepatic damage, being involved in attenuation of the inflammatory response but at the same time exacerbation of liver fibrosis.


Kupffer cell; Liver fibrosis; alternative macrophage activation.; cirrhosis

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