The role of Kupffer cells in hepatic diseases

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Kupffer cells (KCs) constitute 80–90% of the tissue macrophages present in the body. Essential to innate and adaptive immunity, KCs are responsible for the swift containment and clearance of exogenous particulates and immunoreactive materials which are perceived as foreign and harmful to the body. Similar to other macrophages, KCs also sense endogenous molecular signals that may result from perturbed homeostasis of the host. KCs have been implicated in host defense and the pathogenesis of various hepatic diseases, including endotoxin tolerance, liver transplantation, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and alcoholic liver disease. In this review, we summarized some novel findings associated with the role of KCs in hepatic diseases, such as the origin and mechanisms KCs polarization, molecular basis for caspase-1 activation called “non-canonical inflammasome pathway” involving the cleavage of Gsdmd by caspase-11, the important role of microRNA in liver transplantation, and so on. A better understanding of KCs biological characteristics and immunologic function in liver homeostasis and pathology may pave the way to investigate new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for hepatic diseases.

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