Abstract: Background: Although concanavalin A (Con A) as a T cell stimulant can cause natural killer T (NKT) cell-mediated liver injury in mice and a nonhepatotoxic dose of Con A can trigger innate immune cells including NKT cells to prevent tumor metastasis in the liver, little is known about the role of Con A-primed NKT cells in liver repair. In this study, we aimed to investigate the effect of pretreatment with a nontoxic dose of Con A on subsequent liver regeneration in mice.
Methods: A nontoxic dose of Con A was injected intravenously 24 h before partial hepatectomy (PHx), which was used as a model of liver regeneration. Ratios of remnant liver mass to body weight, bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) labeling were used to assess liver regeneration.
Results: Hepatic mononuclear cells were isolated and analyzed by flow cytometry. After PHx, the ratios of liver weight to body weight, PCNA-positive hepatocytes and BrdU-positive hepatocytes in Con A-pretreated mice were significantly higher than that of phosphate-buffered saline-treated mice, indicating that Con A pretreatment can accelerate liver regeneration. Flow cytometric analysis showed that NKT cells were significantly activated and selectively eliminated after the Con A administration. Moreover, NKT cells expressed more apoptosis-related molecules, Fas and Annexin V.
Conclusions: Taken together, Con A accelerates liver regeneration in mice by eliminating hepatic NKT cells via activation-induced cell death.