IL-33 induces immunosuppressive neutrophils via a type 2 innate lymphoid cell/IL-13/STAT6 axis and protects the liver against injury in LCMV infection-induced viral hepatitis.


Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, 77555-1070, USA, TX. [Email]


Viral hepatitis is still a public health problem affecting several million people around the world. Neutrophils are polymorphonuclear cells that have a critical role in antibacterial infection. However, the role of neutrophils in viral infection is not fully understood. By using a mouse model of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus infection-induced viral hepatitis, we observed increased neutrophil recruitment in the liver accompanied by enhanced CD8+ T-cell responses. Liver neutrophils expressed high levels of immunomodulatory cytokines, such as C-X-C chemokine ligand 2, arginase-1, inducible nitric oxide synthase and interleukin (IL)-10, demonstrating immunosuppressive properties. Depletion of neutrophils in vivo by a neutralizing antibody resulted in the exacerbation of liver injury and the promotion of T-cell responses at the immune contraction stage. IL-33 significantly induced neutrophil recruitment in the liver and attenuated liver injury by limiting effector T-cell accumulation. Mechanistically, we found that IL-33 promoted the expression of arginase-1 in neutrophils through the type 2 innate lymphoid cell (ILC2)-derived IL-13. Additionally, IL-13 increased the inhibitory effect of neutrophils on CD8+ T-cell proliferation in vitro, partially through arginase-1. Finally, we found that IL-13 induced arginase-1 expression, depending on signal transducer and activator of transcription factor 6 (STAT6) signaling. Therefore, IL-33 induced immunosuppressive neutrophils via an ILC2/IL-13/STAT6 axis. Collectively, our findings shed new light on the mechanisms associated with IL-33-triggered neutrophils in the liver and suggest potential targets for therapeutic investigation in viral hepatitis.