CXCL10 plays a key role as an inflammatory mediator and a non-invasive biomarker of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis

Xiang Zhang, Jiayun Shen, Kwan Man, Eagle S H Chu, Tung On Yau, Joanne C Y Sung, Minnie Y Y Go, Jun Deng, Liwei Lu, Vincent W S Wong, Joseph J Y Sung, Geoffrey Farrell, Jun Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND & AIMS: Perpetuate liver inflammation is crucial in the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Expression of CXCL10, a pro-inflammatory cytokine, correlates positively with obesity and type 2 diabetes. Whether CXCL10 plays a role in NASH was unknown. We aimed to investigate the functional and clinical impact of CXCL10 in NASH.

METHODS: Cxcl10 gene-deleted (Cxcl10(-/-)) and C57BL/6 wild type (WT) mice were fed a methionine- and choline-deficient (MCD) diet for 4 or 8 weeks. In other experiments, we injected neutralizing anti-CXCL10 mAb into MCD-fed WT mice. Human serum was obtained from 147 patients with biopsy-proven non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and 73 control subjects.

RESULTS: WT mice, fed the MCD diet, developed steatohepatitis with higher hepatic CXCL10 expression. Cxcl10(-/-) mice were refractory to MCD-induced steatohepatitis. We further revealed that CXCL10 was associated with the induction of important pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β, and MCP-1) and activation of the NF-κB pathway. CXCL10 was linked to steatosis through upregulation of the lipogenic factors SREBP-1c and LXR, and also to oxidative stress (upregulation of CYP2E1 and C/EBPβ). Blockade of CXCL10 protected against hepatocyte injury in vitro and against steatohepatitis development in mice. We further investigated the clinical impact of CXCL10 and found circulating and hepatic CXCL10 levels were significantly higher in human NASH. Importantly, the circulating CXCL10 level was correlated with the degree of lobular inflammation and was an independent risk factor for NASH patients.

CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrate for the first time that CXCL10 plays a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of experimental steatohepatitis. CXCL10 maybe a potential non-invasive biomarker for NASH patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1365-75
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Hepatology
Issue number6
Publication statusPrint publication - Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Animals
  • Biomarkers/metabolism
  • Biopsy
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chemokine CXCL10/deficiency
  • Cytokines/metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Inflammation/metabolism
  • Liver/metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • NF-kappa B/metabolism
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease/metabolism
  • Signal Transduction/physiology


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