NKT cells are required to induce high IL-33 expression in hepatocytes during ConA-induced acute hepatitis



Interleukin-33 (IL-33) is thought to be released during cellular death as an alarmin cytokine during the acute phase of disease, but its regulation in vivo is poorly understood. We investigated the expression of IL-33 in two mouse models of acute hepatitis by administering either carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) or concanavalin A (ConA). IL-33 was overexpressed in both models but with a stronger induction in ConA-induced hepatitis. IL-33 was weakly expressed in vascular and sinusoidal endothelial cells from normal liver and was clearly induced in CCl4-treated mice. Surprisingly, we found that hepatocytes strongly expressed IL-33 exclusively in the ConA model. CD1d knock-out mice, which are deficient in NKT cells and resistant to ConA-induced hepatitis, no longer expressed IL-33 in hepatocytes following ConA administration. Interestingly, invariant NKT (iNKT) cells adoptively transferred into ConA-treated CD1d KO mouse restored IL-33 expression in hepatocytes. This strongly suggests that NKT cells are responsible for the induction of IL-33 in hepatocytes.