Background & Aims ER stress promotes liver fat accumulation and induction of inflammatory cytokines, which contribute to the development of steatohepatitis. Unresolved ER stress upregulates the pro-apoptotic CHOP. IL-1α is localized to the nucleus in apoptotic cells, but is released when these cells become necrotic and induce sterile inflammation. We investigated whether IL-1α is involved in ER stress-induced apoptosis and steatohepatitis. Methods We employed WT and IL-1α-deficient mice to study the role of IL-1α in ER stress-induced steatohepatitis. Results Liver CHOP mRNA was induced in a time dependent fashion in the atherogenic diet-induced steatohepatitis model, and was twofold lower in IL-1α deficient compared to WT mice. In the ER stress-driven steatohepatitis model, IL-1α deficiency decreased the elevation in serum ALT levels, the number of apoptotic cells (measured as caspase-3-positive hepatocytes), and the expression of IL-1β, IL-6, TNFα, and CHOP, with no effect on the degree of fatty liver formation. IL-1α was upregulated in ER-stressed-macrophages and the protein was localized to the nucleus. IL-1β mRNA and CHOP mRNA and protein levels were lower in ER-stressed-macrophages from IL-1α deficient compared to WT mice. ER stress induced the expression of IL-1α and IL-1β also in mouse primary hepatocytes. Recombinant IL-1α treatment in hepatocytes did not affect CHOP expression but upregulated both IL-1α and IL-1β mRNA levels. Conclusion We show that IL-1α is upregulated in response to ER stress and IL-1α deficiency reduces ER stress-induced CHOP expression, apoptosis and steatohepatitis. As a dual function cytokine, IL-1α may contribute to the induction of CHOP intracellularly, while IL-1α released from necrotic cells accelerates steatohepatitis via induction of inflammatory cytokines by neighboring cells.
- ER stress