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World J Gastroenterol. 2015 Feb 7;21(5):1531-45. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v21.i5.1531.

Interleukin-22 ameliorates liver fibrogenesis by attenuating hepatic stellate cell activation and downregulating the levels of inflammatory cytokines.

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Dong-Hong Lu, Xiao-Yun Guo, Shan-Yu Qin, Wei Luo, Xiao-Li Huang, Mei Chen, Jia-Xu Wang, Shi-Jia Ma, Xian-Wen Yang, Hai-Xing Jiang, Department of Gastroenterology, The First Affiliated Hospital, Guangxi Medical University, Nanning 530021, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China.



To investigate the effect of interleukin (IL)-22 on hepatic fibrosis in mice and the possible mechanism involved.


Liver fibrosis was induced in male BALB/c mice by CCl₄. Recombinant IL-22 (rmIL-22) was administered intraperitoneally in CCl₄-treated mice. Fibrosis was assessed by histology and Masson staining. The activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) was investigated by analysis of α-smooth muscle actin expression. The frequencies of T helper (Th) 22 cells, Th17 cells and Th1 cells, the expression of inflammatory cytokines [IL-22, IL-17A, interferon-γ (IFN-γ), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), IL-6, IL-1β] and transcription factors [aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), RAR-related orphan receptor (RORγt), T-bet] mRNA in the liver were investigated. In addition, the plasma levels of IL-22, IL-17A, IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-1β were evaluated.


Significant elevations in circulating Th22 cells, Th17 cells, Th1 cells, IL-22, IL-17A, and IFN-γ were observed in the hepatic fibrosis group compared with the control group (P < 0.01). Treatment with rmIL-22 in mice with hepatic fibrosis ameliorated the severity of hepatic fibrosis, which was confirmed by lower hepatic fibrosis pathological scores (P < 0.01). RmIL-22 decreased the frequencies of Th22 cells (6.71% ± 0.97% vs 8.09% ± 0.74%, P < 0.01), Th17 cells (4.34% ± 0.37% vs 5.71% ± 0.24%, P < 0.01), Th1 cells (3.09% ± 0.49% vs 4.91% ± 0.73%, P < 0.01), and the levels of IL-22 (56.23 ± 3.08 vs 70.29 ± 3.01, P < 0.01), IL-17A (30.74 ± 2.77 vs 45.68 ± 2.71, P < 0.01), and IFN-γ (74.78 ± 2.61 vs 124.89 ± 2.82, P < 0.01). Down-regulation of IL-22, IL-17A, IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1β, AHR RORγt, and T-bet gene expression in the liver was observed in the rmIL-22 group (P < 0.01).


The frequencies of Th22, Th17 and Th1 cells are elevated in hepatic fibrosis. RmIL-22 can attenuate HSC activation and down-regulate the levels of inflammatory cytokines, thereby ameliorating liver fibrogenesis.


Hepatic fibrosis; Interleukin-22; T helper 1 cells; T helper 17 cells; T helper 22 cells

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