Xiang X Zhang, Juqiang J Han, Kwan K Man, Xiaoxing X Li, Jinghua J Du, Eagle S H ES Chu, Minnie Y Y MY Go, Joseph J Y JJ Sung, Jun J Yu


CXC chemokine receptor 3 (CXCR3) is involved in virus-related chronic liver inflammation. However, the role of CXCR3 in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) remains unclear. We aimed to investigate the role of CXCR3 in NASH.Human liver tissues were obtained from 24 non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) patients and 20 control subjects. CXCR3 knockout (CXCR3(-/-)), obese db/db mice and their wild-type (WT) littermates were used in both methionine-and-choline-deficient (MCD) diet and high-fat high-carbohydrate high-cholesterol (HFHC) diet-induced NASH models. In addition, MCD-fed WT mice were administrated with CXCR3 specific antagonists.CXCR3 was significantly upregulated in liver tissues of patients with NAFLD and in dietary-induced NASH animal models. Compared with WT littermates, CXCR3(-/-) mice were more resistant to both MCD and HFHC diet-induced steatohepatitis. Induction of CXCR3 in dietary-induced steatohepatitis was associated with the increased expression of hepatic pro-inflammatory cytokines, activation of NF-κB, macrophage infiltration and T lymphocytes accumulation (Th1 and Th17 immune response). CXCR3 was also linked to steatosis through inducing hepatic lipogenic genes. Moreover, CXCR3 is associated with autophagosome-lysosome impairment and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in steatohepatitis as evidenced by LC3-II and p62/SQSTM1 accumulation and the induction of GRP78, phospho-PERK and phospho-eIF2α. Inhibition of CXCR3 using CXCR3 antagonist significantly suppressed MCD-induced steatosis and hepatocytes injury in AML-12 hepatocytes. Blockade of CXCR3 using CXCR3 antagonists in mice reversed the established steatohepatitis.CXCR3 plays a pivotal role in NASH development by inducing production of cytokines, macrophage infiltration, fatty acid synthesis and causing autophagy deficiency and ER stress.