Increase in hepatic NKT cells in leukocyte cell-derived chemotaxin 2-deficient mice contributes to severe concanavalin A-induced hepatitis.
Saito T., Okumura A., Watanabe H., Asano M., Ishida-Okawara A., Sakagami J., Sudo K., Hatano-Yokoe Y., Bezbradica JS., Joyce S., Abo T., Iwakura Y., Suzuki K., Yamagoe S.
Leukocyte cell-derived chemotaxin 2 (LECT2) was originally identified for its possible chemotactic activity against human neutrophils in vitro. It is a 16-kDa protein that is preferentially expressed in the liver. Its homologues have been widely identified in many vertebrates. Current evidence suggests that LECT2 may be a multifunctional protein like cytokines. However, the function of LECT2 in vivo remains unclear. To elucidate the role of this protein in vivo, we have generated LECT2-deficient (LECT2(-/-)) mice. We found that the proportion of NKT cells in the liver increased significantly in LECT2(-/-) mice, although those of conventional T cells, NK cells, and other cell types were comparable with those in wild-type mice. Consistent with increased hepatic NKT cell number, the production of IL-4 and IFN-gamma was augmented in LECT2(-/-) mice upon stimulation with alpha-galactosylceramide, which specifically activates Valpha14 NKT cells. In addition, NKT cell-mediated cytotoxic activity against syngeneic thymocytes increased in hepatic mononuclear cells obtained from LECT2(-/-) mice in vitro. Interestingly, the hepatic injury was exacerbated in LECT2(-/-) mice upon treatment with Con A, possibly because of the significantly higher expression of IL-4 and Fas ligand. These results suggest that LECT2 might regulate the homeostasis of NKT cells in the liver and might be involved in the pathogenesis of hepatitis.