Due to a scarcity of immunocompetent animal models for viral hepatitis, little is known about the early innate immune responses in the liver. In various hepatotoxic models, both pro- and anti-inflammatory activities of recruited monocytes have been described. In this study, we compared the effect of liver inflammation induced by the Toll-like receptor 4 ligand lipopolysaccharide (LPS) with that of a persistent virus, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) clone 13, on early innate intrahepatic immune responses in mice. LCMV infection induces a remarkable influx of inflammatory monocytes in the liver within 24 h, accompanied by increased transcript levels of several proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines in whole liver. Importantly, while a single LPS injection results in similar recruitment of inflammatory monocytes to the liver, the functional properties of the infiltrating cells are dramatically different in response to LPS versus LCMV infection. In fact, intrahepatic inflammatory monocytes are skewed toward a secretory phenotype with impaired phagocytosis in LCMV-induced liver inflammation but exhibit increased endocytic capacity after LPS challenge. In contrast, F4/80high-Kupffer cells retain their steady-state endocytic functions upon LCMV infection. Strikingly, the gene expression levels of inflammatory monocytes dramatically change upon LCMV exposure and resemble those of Kupffer cells. Since inflammatory monocytes outnumber Kupffer cells 24 h after LCMV infection, it is highly likely that inflammatory monocytes contribute to the intrahepatic inflammatory response during the early phase of infection. Our findings are instrumental in understanding the early immunological events during virus-induced liver disease and point toward inflammatory monocytes as potential target cells for future treatment options in viral hepatitis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science