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Yao Z.,Hebei Medical University | Yao Z.,Key Laboratory of Immune Mechanism and Intervention on Serious Disease | Song X.,Hebei Medical University | Song X.,Key Laboratory of Immune Mechanism and Intervention on Serious Disease | And 12 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Background: The core protein of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is found in the cytoplasm and nuclei of infected cells, including hepatocytes and other cells in the liver. The core protein could be secreted as well. Resident liver macrophages are dependent on the tissue micro-environment and external stimuli to differentiate M1 and M2 hypotypes with distinct functions, and increased expression of the nuclear transcription factor STAT3 was seen in M2-polarized macrophages. In contrast to proinflammatory M1 macrophages, M2 macrophages serve beneficial roles in chronic inflammation, immunosuppression, and tumorigenesis.Methods: Monocyte-derived human macrophage line (mTHP-1) was treated with the exogenous HCV core protein. Next, the mTHP-1 culture supernatant or cell pellets were added to culture media of normal human liver cell line (L02).Results: Only the culture supernatant stimulated L02 cells proliferation, which was associated with phosphorylated ERK expression. Core protein activated mTHP-1 cells showed enhanced pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines secretion, whichwas accompanied by high expression of phosphorylated NF-kB105 and NF-kB65. However, phosphorylated STAT1, and STAT3, which are normally associated with M1 and M2 macrophage polarization, and cell surface expression of CD206, CD14, CD16, and CD86, were unaltered. A transwell co-culture system showed that only in mTHP-1 co-cultured with L02 in the presence of exogenous core protein, were higher levels of phosphorylated STAT3 and CD206 seen.Conclusions: We showed L02 cells proliferation was accelerated by the culture supernatant of mTHP-1 cells treated with the exogenous HCV core protein. The exogenous core protein mediated the interaction between macrophages and hepatocytes in co-culture, which enhanced the expression of phosphorylated STAT3 and CD206 in macrophages. © 2014 Yao et al.

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