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Summary

Our previous studies have shown that Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands, Poly I:C and lipopolysaccharide (LPS), are able to activate non-parenchymal liver cells and trigger the production of interferon (IFN) to inhibit hepatitis B virus replication in vivo and in vitro. However, little is known about TLR-mediated cellular responses in primary hepatocytes. By the model of woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV) infected primary woodchuck hepatocytes (PWHs), Poly I:C and LPS stimulation resulted in upregulation of cellular antiviral genes and relevant TLRs mRNA expression respectively. LPS stimulation led to a pronounced reduction of WHV replicative intermediates without a significant IFN induction. Poly I:C transfection resulted in the production of IFN and a highly increased expression of antiviral genes in PWHs and slight inhibitory effect on WHV replication. LPS could activate nuclear factor kappa B, MAPK and PI-3k/Akt pathways in PWHs. Further, inhibitors of MAPK-ERK and PI-3k/Akt pathways, but not that of IFN signalling pathway, were able to block the antiviral effect of LPS. These results indicate that IFN- independent pathways which activated by LPS are able to downregulate hepadnaviral replication in hepatocytes.