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Abstract

Interleukin (IL)-33 is a recently identified member of the IL-1 family that binds to the receptor, ST2L. In the current study, we sought to determine whether IL-33 is an important regulator in the hepatic response to ischemia/reperfusion (I/R). Male C57BL/6 mice were subjected to 90 minutes of partial hepatic ischemia, followed by up to 8 hours of reperfusion. Some mice received recombinant IL-33 (IL-33) intraperitoneally (IP) before surgery or anti-ST2 antibody IP at the time of reperfusion. Primary hepatocytes and Kupffer cells were isolated and treated with IL-33 to assess the effects of IL-33 on inflammatory cytokine production. Primary hepatocytes were treated with IL-33 to assess the effects of IL-33 on mediators of cell survival in hepatocytes. IL-33 protein expression increased within 4 hours after reperfusion and remained elevated for up to 8 hours. ST2L protein expression was detected in healthy liver and was up-regulated within 1 hour and peaked at 4 hours after I/R. ST2L was primarily expressed by hepatocytes, with little to no expression by Kupffer cells. IL-33 significantly reduced hepatocellular injury and liver neutrophil accumulation at 1 and 8 hours after reperfusion. In addition, IL-33 treatment increased liver activation of nuclear factor kappa light-chain enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB), p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), cyclin D1, and B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2), but reduced serum levels of CXC chemokines. In vitro experiments demonstrated that IL-33 significantly reduced hepatocyte cell death as a result of increased NF-κB activation and Bcl-2 expression in hepatocytes. Conclusion: The data suggest that IL-33 is an important endogenous regulator of hepatic I/R injury. It appears that IL-33 has direct protective effects on hepatocytes, associated with the activation of NF-κB, p38 MAPK, cyclin D1, and Bcl-2 that limits liver injury and reduces the stimulus for inflammation. (HEPATOLOGY 2012)