Human hepatic stellate cells and inflammation: A regulated cytokine network balance

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Aim: Uncertainty about the safety of cell therapy continues to be a major challenge to the medical community. Inflammation and the associated immune response represent a major safety concern hampering the development of long-term clinical therapy. In vivo interactions between the cell graft and the host immune system are mediated by functional environmental sensors and stressors that play significant roles in the immunobiology of the graft. Within this context, human liver stellate cells (HSC) demonstrated marked immunological plasticity that has main importance for future liver cell therapy application. Methods: By using qPCR technique, we established the cytokine gene expression profile of HSCs and investigated the effect of an inflammatory environment on the immunobiology of HSCs. Results and discussion: HSCs present a specific immunological profile as demonstrated by the expression and modulation of major immunological cytokines. Under constitutive conditions, the cytokine pattern expressed by HSCs was characterized by the high expression of IL-6. Inflammation critically modulated the expression of major immunological cytokines. As evidenced by the induction of the expression of several inflammatory genes, HSCs acquire a pro-inflammatory profile that ultimately might have critical implications for their immunological shape. Conclusion: These new observations have to be taken into account in any future liver cell therapy application based on the use of HSCs.

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