Endotoxin stimulates liver macrophages to release mediators that inhibit an early step in hepadnavirus replication

Uta Klöcker, Ursula Schultz, Heinz Schaller, Ulrike Protzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Hepadnaviruses are known to be sensitive to various extracellular mediators. Therefore, bacterial endotoxin, which induces the secretion of proinflammatory mediators in the liver, was studied for its effect on hepadnavirus infection in vitro using the duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV) model. In initial experiments, endotoxin was shown to inhibit DHBV replication in primary duck hepatocyte cultures prepared by standard collagenase perfusion. As a primary endotoxin target, hepatic nonparenchymal cells (NPC) contaminating primary hepatocyte cultures, and among these probably macrophages (Kupffer cells), were identified to secrete polypeptide mediators into the cell culture medium. When added during DHBV infection, these mediators elicited the principal antiviral effect in a dose-dependent fashion. On the molecular level, they inhibited accumulation of viral proteins as well as amplification of the nuclear extrachromosomal DHBV DNA templates. In hepatocytes with an established DHBV infection, DHBV protein and progeny virus production was inhibited while the levels of established nuclear DHBV DNA templates and viral transcripts remained unaffected. Finally, in hepatocytes infected with a replication-deficient recombinant DHBV-green fluorescent protein (GFP) virus, the endotoxin-induced mediators markedly reduced GFP expression from chimeric DHBV-GFP transcripts, indicating that the major effect is at a level of translation of viral RNAs. Taken together, the data obtained demonstrate that antiviral mediators, and among these the cytokines alpha interferon (IFN-α) and IFN-γ, are released from hepatic NPC, most probably liver macrophages, upon endotoxin stimulation; furthermore, these mediators act at a posttranscriptional step of hepadnavirus replication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5525-5533
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


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