NLRP3 inflammasome activation from Kupffer cells is involved in liver fibrosis of Schistosoma japonicum-infected mice via NF-κB.


Department of Parasitology, School of Basic Medicine, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, 430070, Hubei, People's Republic of China. [Email]


BACKGROUND : NOD-like receptor protein 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome was reported as expressed in schistosomiasis-induced liver fibrosis (SSLF). We used an NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitor, MCC950, to investigate whether it inhibited liver fibrosis, and explored the preliminary molecular mechanism.
METHODS : BALB/c mice were infected with 15 cercariae through the abdominal skin. They received intraperitoneal injections of MCC950 on the day of infection and at day 22 post-infection. We examined their SSLF phenotype and the effect on liver fibrosis, primary Kupffer cells (KCs), and HSCs. Human hepatic stellate cell lines (human LX-2 cells) were treated with soluble egg antigen (SEA) released from the eggs. We then determined the expression of NLRP3 inflammasome and liver fibrosis-associated markers, liver granuloma and ALT/AST.
RESULTS : NLRP3 inflammasome expression in the liver was significantly increased, and eosinophilic granuloma and collagen deposition were found around the eggs in mice infected for 56 days. Additionally, IL-1β, ALT/AST in plasma, and NF-κB in liver tissue and in KCs were all greatly significantly increased. The above-mentioned indicators were largely reduced in mice treated with MCC950 on the day of infection. In vitro, lipopolysaccharide (LPS)/SEA could induce LX-2 cells to express NLRP3 and fibrosis markers, and the SEA-treated group was reversed by MCC950. Furthermore, NLRP3 inflammasome and liver fibrosis-associated markers were both increased in the primary KCs and HSCs isolated from infected mice. However, this effect was not observed in the same cells from the mice treated with MCC950 on the day of infection. Contrary to the aforementioned results, MCC950 treatment at day 22 post-infection aggravated this process. Surprisingly, NLRP3 inflammasome was involved in liver fibrosis mostly from KCs.
CONCLUSIONS : MCC950 acts dually on SSLF pathology and fibrosis in infected mice. Although MCC950 treatment improved SSLF on the day of infection, it exacerbated the pathological effects at day 22 post-infection. These dual effects were mediated via NF-κB. Moreover, NLRP3 inflammasome mainly came from KCs. Our results suggest that blocking NLRP3 on the day of infection may prove to be a promising direction in preventing SSLF.


Kupffer cells,Liver fibrosis,NLRP3 inflammasome,Schistosoma japonicum,