Background: Interleukin-18 (IL-18) is a potent proinflammatory cytokine that augments both innate and acquired immune responses. It is also a crucial regulator of lymphocyte production of interferon-γ (IFN-γ), which can promote acute cellular rejection of transplanted solid organs. Methods: To evaluate the role of IL-18 in liver transplantation, we constructed an adenoviral vector encoding IL-18 binding protein (Adex-IL18bp), which specifically suppressed the biologic activity of IL-18, and examined the effect of this suppression on liver allografts by using a high-responder rat model (ACI to Lewis) of orthotopic liver transplantation (OLTx). Donor rats were given one intravenous injection of Adex-IL18bp or Adex-LacZ (control vector) 2 d before OLTx. Results: Seven days after OLTx, overexpression of IL-18bp resulting from the adenovirus gene transfer was associated with significantly decreased serum alanine aminotransferase levels and less histologic hepatic injury in recipient rats with Adex-IL18bp-pretreated donors compared with Adex-LacZ controls. Adex-IL18bp pretreatment also significantly prolonged rat/allograft survival, inhibited expression of IFN-γ, and reduced levels (versus control values) of both CXCL10 and CX3CL1, which can be induced by IFN-γ. Conclusion: These results suggest that IL-18 has an important role in liver allograft rejection through IFN-γ and chemokines and that specific suppression of IL-18 may improve liver function early after transplantation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas