Discovery of New Immune Cells that Suppress Acute Liver Failure ―Expectations in the Development of New Treatments for Acute Liver Failure―
July 19, 2019
Keio University School of Medicine
A research group comprising Professor Takanori Kanai and Associate Professor Nobuhiro Nakamoto of the Keio University School of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and Yuzo Koda, a joint researcher, discovered that plasmacytoid dendritic cells, which are a type of immune cell, were significantly reduced in the liver and blood of patients suffering from acute liver failure, a liver disease that has a high mortality rate and for which there are few effective treatments other than a liver transplant.
Furthermore, it was found that developing acute hepatitis in mice by inducing a deficiency in plasmacytoid dendritic cells worsened their condition, while transplanting plasmacytoid dendritic cells in mice that had developed acute hepatitis improved their condition, leading to the conclusion that plasmacytoid dendritic cells play a protective role against acute hepatitis. In addition, it was also found that plasmacytoid dendritic cells increase the immunosuppressive cytokine IL-35 produced by regulatory T cells, which suppresses Th1 cells and a substance they produce that aggravates hepatitis, IFN-γ.
These results show the possibility of plasmacytoid dendritic cells protecting the liver from rapidly progressing hepatitis as well as the details of its protective role through regulatory T cells and IL-35. There are expectations that these findings will lead to the development of new treatments and diagnostic agents for acute hepatitis and acute liver failure using plasmacytoid dendritic cells.
The outcomes of this research were published in the online version of the international academic publication, "Journal of Clinical Investigation" on July 2, 2019 (Eastern Standard Time).