The Effect of Antifibrotic Drug Halofugine on Th17 Cells in Concanavalin A-Induced Liver Fibrosis



Anti-inflammation strategy is one of the proposed therapeutic approaches to hepatic fibrosis. T helper (Th) 17 cells, which play a detrimental role in experimental murine models of inflammatory diseases, have been demonstrated to participate in the pathogenesis of liver damage. The inhibitory effect of halofuginone (HF), an active component of extracts derived from the plant alkaloid febrifugine, on collagen synthesis has been shown in animal models of the fibrotic disease. The aim of this study was to clarify the in vivo effect of HF on Th17 cells in concanavalin A-induced fibrosis rats. Haematoxylin–eosin (HE) staining and Masson staining were performed to observe collagen deposition. The presence of INF-gamma, TNF-alpha, IL-6, IL-17, IL-1beta, IL-33 and IL-10 in serum and the presence of ROR-γt, IL-17, TGF-β1 and α-SMA in liver tissue were detected. Flow cytometry was performed to analyse the percentage of Th17 cells. We observed significantly lower levels of INF-gamma, TNF-alpha, IL-6, IL-17, IL-1beta, TGF-β1 and α-SMA in HF-treated group of rats, and the percentage of Th17 cells in splenic lymphocyte was decreased well. Histological examination demonstrated that HF significantly reduced the severity of liver fibrosis in HF-treated rats. We concluded that HF (10 mg/kg) exerts an antifibrotic impact on Th17 cells and its relative cytokines in rats with ConA-induced fibrosis.