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PLoS One. 2014 Apr 24;9(4):e96053. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0096053. eCollection 2014.

Synthesis of IL-6 by hepatocytes is a normal response to common hepatic stimuli.

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Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America.
Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America.


Exogenous interleukin 6 (IL-6), synthesized at the initiation of the acute phase response, is considered responsible for signaling hepatocytes to produce acute phase proteins. It is widely posited that IL-6 is either delivered to the liver in an endocrine fashion from immune cells at the site of injury, or alternatively, in a paracrine manner by hepatic immune cells within the liver. A recent publication showed there was a muted IL-6 response in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-injured mice when nuclear NFκB was specifically inactivated in the hepatocytes. This indicates hepatocellular signaling is also involved in regulating the acute phase production of IL-6. Herein, we present extensive in vitro and in vivo evidence that normal hepatocytes are directly induced to synthesize IL-6 mRNAs and protein by challenge with LPS, a bacterial hepatotoxin, and by HGF, an important regulator of hepatic homeostasis. As the IL-6 receptor is found on the hepatocyte, these results reveal that induction of the acute phase response can be regulated in an autocrine as well as endocrine/paracrine fashion. Further, herein we provide data indicating that following partial hepatectomy (PHx), HGF differentially regulates IL-6 production in hepatocytes (induces) versus immune cells (suppresses), signifying disparate regulation of the cell sources involved in IL-6 production is a biologically relevant mechanism that has previously been overlooked. These findings have wide ranging ramifications regarding how we currently interpret a variety of in vivo and in vitro biological models involving elements of IL-6 signaling and the hepatic acute phase response.

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