Increase of chemokine interferon-inducible protein-10 (IP-10) in the serum of patients with autoimmune liver diseases and increase of its mRNA expression in hepatocytes

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To clarify the role of IP-10 in autoimmune liver diseases, we studied the serum levels of IP-10 in 14 patients with autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), 23 patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), and 65 patients with chronic viral hepatitis (20 type B and 45 type C). The hepatic expression of IP-10 mRNA and the correlation between the serum levels of IP-10 and clinical parameters were also evaluated. In addition to 20 healthy controls, 16 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients were included as an extrahepatic inflammatory disease. The serum level of IP-10 was significantly (P < 0·02) higher in patients with AIH, PBC, and chronic hepatitis B and C than in healthy controls, and it was significantly correlated (P < 0·05) with the serum levels of aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase in patients with AIH, PBC, and chronic hepatitis B and C. The serum level of IP-10 was not elevated in RA patients. After successful treatment of AIH and chronic hepatitis C, the serum level of IP-10 decreased to the same level as in healthy volunteers. As we previously showed in cases with chronic hepatitis B or C, in situ hybridization in both AIH and PBC cases demonstrated the expression of IP-10 mRNA in hepatocytes around focal or lobular necrosis surrounded by infiltrating mononuclear cells, whereas IP-10 mRNA was not expressed in areas around the damaged bile ducts in PBC cases. The present results suggest that IP-10 is specifically produced by hepatocytes in inflammatory areas irrespective of the aetiology of hepatitis, and that IP-10 may help to recruit T cells to the hepatic lesions in autoimmune liver diseases as well as in chronic viral hepatitis.

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