Background & Aim Alcohol consumption increases intestinal permeability and causes damage to hepatocytes, leading to the release of pathogen- and damage-associated molecular pattern molecules (PAMPs and DAMPs), stimulating hepatic macrophages and activating NF-κB. The resultant inflammation exacerbates alcoholic liver disease (ALD). However, much less is known about the mechanisms attenuating inflammation and preventing disease progression in most heavy drinkers. Interleukin (IL)-33 is a DAMP (alarmin) released from dead cells that acts through its receptor, IL-1 receptor like 1 (ST2). ST2 signaling has been reported to either stimulate or inhibit NF-κB activation. The role of IL-33/ST2 in ALD has not been studied. Methods Serum levels of IL-33 and its decoy receptor, soluble ST2 (sST2) were measured in ALD patients. Alcohol-induced liver injury, inflammation and hepatic macrophage activation were compared between wild-type, IL-33−/− and ST2−/− mice in several models. Results Elevation of serum IL-33 and sST2 were only observed in patients with severe decompensated ALD. Consistently, in mice with mild ALD without significant cell death and IL-33 release, IL-33 deletion did not affect alcohol-induced liver damage. However, ST2-deletion exacerbated ALD, through enhancing NF-κB activation in liver macrophages. In contrast, when extracellular IL-33 was markedly elevated, liver injury and inflammation were attenuated in both IL-33−/− and ST2−/− mice compared to wild-type mice. Conclusion Our data revealed a dichotomous role of IL-33/ST2 signaling during ALD development. At early and mild stages, ST2 restrains the inflammatory activation of hepatic macrophages, through inhibiting NF-κB, and plays a protective function in an IL-33-independent fashion. During severe liver injury, significant cell death and marked IL-33 release occur, which triggers IL-33/ST2 signaling and exacerbates tissue damage. Lay summary In mild ALD, ST2 negatively regulates the inflammatory activation of hepatic macrophages, thereby protecting against alcohol-induced liver damage, whereas in the case of severe liver injury, the release of extracellular IL-33 may exacerbate tissue inflammation by triggering the canonical IL-33/ST2L signaling in hepatic macrophages.
- Liver macrophages
ASJC Scopus subject areas