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Gastroenterology. 1998 Jul;115(1):157-66.

Role of cytokines in ethanol-induced cytotoxicity in vitro in Hep G2 cells.

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Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Sunnybrook Health Science Center, Ontario, Canada.



As shown previously by us, ethanol (EtOH) causes time- and concentration-dependent reduction in cytoviability. Tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA) and ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) were shown to reduce cytotoxicity. Long-term EtOH exposure leads to immunoregulatory and detoxification impairment. This study aimed to determine the relationship between cytokine (interleukin [IL]-1 alpha and IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor [TNF]-alpha) production and expression, glutathione (GSH) status, and EtOH-induced cytotoxicity on Hep G2 cells.


Cells were incubated with 80 mmol/L EtOH or alpha-minimal essential medium (control) in the presence or absence of 50 mumol/L TUDCA or UDCA. Cytokine release was quantitated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Cytokine expression was measured by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. GSH content was determined in both the cytosolic and mitochondrial fractions.


After 24 hours of EtOH exposure, the release of IL-1 alpha doubled, that of IL-6 increased 10 times, and that of TNF-alpha increased 3.5 times. Cytokine expression was up-regulated compared with control for IL-1 alpha (42%), IL-6 (26%), and TNF-alpha (52%). Addition of 50 mumol/L TUDCA or UDCA reduced cytokine release and expression. TNF-alpha increased cytotoxicity by 18%. Anti-TNF-alpha antibody almost abolished it. EtOH depleted mGSH levels by 55% (P < 0.001). TUDCA replenished them by 88%.


EtOH up-regulated expression of cytokines in Hep G2 cells is down-regulated by bile acids. Increased amounts of TNF-alpha and depletion in both cytosolic and mitochondrial GSH contribute to EtOH cytotoxicity. Bile acids prevent toxicity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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