Acute and chronic effects of IL-22 on acetaminophen-induced liver injury

Dechun Feng, Yan Wang, Hua Wang, Honglei Weng, Xiaoni Kong, Brittany V. Martin-Murphy, Yongmei Li, Ogyi Park, Steven Dooley, Cynthia Ju, Bin Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Acetaminophen (APAP)-induced liver injury (AILI) accounts for half of the acute liver failure cases in the United States. A better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of AILI is necessary for the development of novel antidotes. We found that pretreatment with IL-22 protected mice from APAP-mediated hepatotoxicity. The protection was dependent on STAT3, as IL-22 failed to reduce APAP hepatotoxicity in liver-specific STAT3 knockout mice. In contrast to the acute exposure to IL-22, the endogenous chronic overexpression of IL-22 in IL-22 transgenic (TG) mice or IL-22 adenovirus treatment for 6 wk resulted in a markedly increased susceptibility to AILI. Furthermore, the hepatic expression levels of cytochrome 2E1 (Cyp2E1) and Cyp1A2 were much higher in IL-22TG mice. Ablation of Cyp2E1 but not hepatic STAT3 abolished AILI and protein-adduct formation in IL-22TG mice. Finally, hepatic expression of HNF-1α, a transcriptional factor that is known to control Cyp2E1 expression, was elevated in IL-22TG mice compared with wild-type mice. Upregulation of hepatic Cyp2E1 was only observed in mice with constitutive overexpression of IL-22 but not with short-term treatment with one dose of IL-22 or multiple doses of IL-22 for 2 wk. In conclusion, short-term acute IL-22 exposure protects mice against AILI through STAT3 activation; however, chronic constitutive overexpression of IL-22 exacerbates AILI by increasing Cyp2E1 and toxic reactive APAP metabolite production. These findings may not only enhance our understanding of the effects of chronic inflammation on AILI in patients with liver disease, but are also helpful to identify novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of AILI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2512-2518
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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