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Abstract

A fraction of HBV carriers have a risk to develop liver cancer. Because liver possesses a strong regeneration capability, surgical resection of cancerous liver or transplantation with healthy liver is an alternate choice for HBV-caused hepatocarcinoma therapy. How HBV infection affects the regeneration of hepatectomized or transplanted liver remains elusive. We report that partial hepatectomy (PHx)-induced liver regeneration was reduced in HBV transgenic (HBV-tg) mice, a model of human HBV infection. PHx markedly triggered natural killer T (NKT) cell accumulation in the hepatectomized livers of HBV-tg mice, simultaneously with enhanced interferon gamma (IFN-γ) production and CD69 expression on hepatic NKT cells at the early stage of liver regeneration. The impairment of liver regeneration in HBV-tg mice was largely ameliorated by NKT cell depletion, but not by natural killer (NK) cell depletion. Blockage of CD1d-NKT cell interaction considerably alleviated NKT cell activation and their inhibitory effect on regenerating hepatocytes. Neutralization of IFN-γ enhanced bromodeoxyuridine incorporation in HBV-tg mice after PHx, and IFN-γ mainly induced hepatocyte cell cycle arrest. Adoptive transfer of NKT cells from regenerating HBV-tg liver, but not from normal mice, could inhibit liver regeneration in recipient mice. Conclusion: Activated NKT cells negatively regulate liver regeneration of HBV-tg mice in the PHx model. (HEPATOLOGY 2007.)