Publication Date



Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hetatology


BACKGROUND & AIMS: Liver contains high frequency of group 1 innate lymphoid cells (ILC), which are composed of comparable number of type 1 ILC (ILC1) and natural killer (NK) cells in steady state. Little is known about whether and how the interaction between ILC1 and NK cells affects the development of alcoholic liver disease.

METHODS: A mouse model of chronic alcohol abuse plus single-binge (Gao-Binge model) was established. The levels of alanine aminotransferase/aspartate aminotransferase, hepatic lipid, and inflammatory cytokines or neutrophils were measured to evaluate the degree of liver injury, steatosis, and inflammation. Flow cytometric analysis, cell depletion, or adoptive transfer were used to interrogate the interaction between ILC1 and NK cells.

RESULTS: Upon chronic alcohol consumption, NK cells, but not ILC1, underwent apoptosis, resulting in ILC1 dominance among group 1 ILC. Interleukin (IL) 17A expression was up-regulated, and increased IL17A was mainly derived from liver ILC1 after chronic alcohol feeding. Either depletion of ILC1 or neutralization of IL17A could significantly attenuate liver steatosis, inflammation, and injury in alcohol-fed mice. In contrast, normalization of the ILC1/NK cells ratio through NK cells transfer or expanding NK cells had a significant hepatoprotection against alcohol-induced steatohepatitis. Furthermore, NK cell-derived interferon gamma exerted a protective function via inhibiting IL17A production by liver ILC1 during alcoholic steatohepatitis.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study showing that the interplay between liver ILC1 and NK cells occurs and drives the development of alcoholic steatohepatitis. Our findings support further exploration of liver ILC1 or NK cells as a therapeutic target for the treatment of alcohol-associated liver disease.


Mice, Animals, Fatty Liver, Alcoholic, Immunity, Innate, Killer Cells, Natural, Liver Diseases, Alcoholic, Inflammation, Ethanol



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