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PLoS One. 2013 Apr 23;8(4):e62853. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062853. Print 2013.

IL-22-producing RORγt-dependent innate lymphoid cells play a novel protective role in murine acute hepatitis.

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Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.


Retinoid-related orphan receptor (ROR) γt is known to be related to the development and function of various immunological compartments in the liver, such as Th17 cells, natural killer T (NKT) cells, and innate lymphoid cells (ILCs). We evaluated the roles of RORγt-expressing cells in mouse acute hepatitis model using RORγt deficient (RORγt(-/-)) mice and RAG-2 and RORγt double deficient (RAG-2(-/-) × RORγt(-/-)) mice. Acute hepatitis was induced in mice by injection with carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), to investigate the regulation of liver inflammation by RORγt-expressing cells. We detected RORC expression in three compartments, CD4(+) T cells, NKT cells, and lineage marker-negative SCA-1(+)Thy1(high) ILCs, of the liver of wild type (WT) mice. CCl4-treated RORγt(-/-) mice developed liver damage in spite of lack of RORγt-dependent cells, but with reduced infiltration of macrophages compared with WT mice. In this regard, ILCs were significantly decreased in RAG-2(-/-) × RORγt(-/-) mice that lacked T and NKT cells. Surprisingly, RAG-2(-/-) × RORγt(-/-) mice developed significantly severer CCl4-induced hepatitis compared with RAG-2(-/-) mice, in accordance with the fact that hepatic ILCs failed to produce IL-22. Lastly, anti-Thy1 monoclonal antibody (mAb), but not anti-NK1.1 mAb or anti-asialo GM1 Ab administration exacerbated liver damage in RAG-2(-/-) mice with the depletion of liver ILCs. Collectively, hepatic RORγt-dependent ILCs play a part of protective roles in hepatic immune response in mice.

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