Since interferons have been shown to affect the synthesis of matrix proteins such as collagen in several in vitro systems, the potential role of γ-interferon in inhibiting hepatic fibrosis was investigated. Hepatic cells, consisting primarily of hepatocytes, were treated with recombinant γ-interferon for 24 hr. Northern blot hybridization showed that γ-interferon treatment caused a profound decrease in pro-α2(I)collagen mRNA levels but an increase in β-actin mRNA content. The effects of γ-interferon were then studied in an in vivo model of hepatic fibrogenesis, murine schistosomiasis. Schistosoma-infected mice were treated with daily i.m. injections of γ-interferon for a 4-week period starting 4 weeks after the initial infection. γ-Interferon treatment decreased collagen deposition as determined by histologic evaluation and measurement of total liver collagen content. Northern blots showed Types I and III procollagen mRNA levels for treated, infected animals to be only 32 and 29% that of infected controls, but β-actin mRNA levels were significantly elevated. These results indicate a potential role for γ-interferon as an antifibrogenic agent in vivo.
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