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CD8 T cells regulate liver injury in obesity-related nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Breuer DA, Pacheco MC, Washington MK, Montgomery SA, Hasty AH, Kennedy AJ
Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2020 318 (2): G211-G224

PMID: 31709830 · PMCID: PMC7052570 · DOI:10.1152/ajpgi.00040.2019

Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) has increased in Western countries due to the prevalence of obesity. Current interests are aimed at identifying the type and function of immune cells that infiltrate the liver and key factors responsible for mediating their recruitment and activation in NASH. We investigated the function and phenotype of CD8 T cells under obese and nonobese NASH conditions. We found an elevation in CD8 staining in livers from obese human subjects with NASH and cirrhosis that positively correlated with α-smooth muscle actin, a marker of hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activation. CD8 T cells were elevated 3.5-fold in the livers of obese and hyperlipidemic NASH mice compared with obese hepatic steatosis mice. Isolated hepatic CD8 T cells from these mice expressed a cytotoxic IL-10-expressing phenotype, and depletion of CD8 T cells led to significant reductions in hepatic inflammation, HSC activation, and macrophage accumulation. Furthermore, hepatic CD8 T cells from obese and hyperlipidemic NASH mice activated HSCs in vitro and in vivo. Interestingly, in the lean NASH mouse model, depletion and knockdown of CD8 T cells did not impact liver inflammation or HSC activation. We demonstrated that under obese/hyperlipidemia conditions, CD8 T cell are key regulators of the progression of NASH, while under nonobese conditions they play a minimal role in driving the disease. Thus, therapies targeting CD8 T cells may be a novel approach for treatment of obesity-associated NASH. Our study demonstrates that CD8 T cells are the primary hepatic T cell population, are elevated in obese models of NASH, and directly activate hepatic stellate cells. In contrast, we find CD8 T cells from lean NASH models do not regulate NASH-associated inflammation or stellate cell activation. Thus, for the first time to our knowledge, we demonstrate that hepatic CD8 T cells are key players in obesity-associated NASH.

MeSH Terms (15)

Animals CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes Hepatic Stellate Cells Hepatitis Humans Hyperlipidemias Interleukin-10 Liver Male Mice Mice, Inbred C57BL Mice, Obese Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Obesity Receptors, LDL

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