Kupffer cells (KCs) are widely considered important contributors to liver injury during viral hepatitis due to their pro-inflammatory activity. Herein we utilized hepatitis B virus (HBV)-replication competent transgenic mice and wild-type mice infected with a hepatotropic adenovirus to demonstrate that KCs do not directly induce hepatocellular injury nor do they affect the pathogenic potential of virus-specific CD8 T cells. Instead, KCs limit the severity of liver immunopathology. Mechanistically, our results are most compatible with the hypothesis that KCs contain liver immunopathology by removing apoptotic hepatocytes in a manner largely dependent on scavenger receptors. Apoptotic hepatocytes not readily removed by KCs become secondarily necrotic and release high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB-1) protein, promoting organ infiltration by inflammatory cells, particularly neutrophils. Overall, these results indicate that KCs resolve rather than worsen liver immunopathology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology