The critical role of chemokine (C-C motif) receptor 2-positive monocytes in autoimmune cholangitis

Debby Reuveni, Yael Gore, Patrick S.C. Leung, Yael Lichter, Itay Moshkovits, Ayelet Kaminitz, Eli Brazowski, Eric Lefebvre, Pamela Vig, Chen Varol, Zamir Halpern, Oren Shibolet, Merrill Eric Gershwin*, Ehud Zigmond

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The therapy of primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) has lagged behind other autoimmune diseases despite significant improvements in our understanding of both immunological and molecular events that lead to loss of tolerance to the E2 component of pyruvate dehydrogenase, the immunodominant autoepitope of PBC. It is well known that Ly6Chi monocytes are innate immune cells infiltrating inflammatory sites that are dependent on the expression of C-C motif chemokine receptor 2 (CCR2) for emigration from bone marrow. Importantly, humans with PBC have a circulating monocyte pro-inflammatory phenotype with macrophage accumulation in portal tracts. We have taken advantage of an inducible chemical xenobiotic model of PBC and recapitulated the massive infiltration of monocytes to portal areas. To determine the clinical significance, we immunized both CCR2-deficient mice and controls with 2OA-BSA and noted that CCR2 deficiency is protective for the development of autoimmune cholangitis. Importantly, because of the therapeutic potential, we focused on inhibiting monocyte infiltration through the use of cenicriviroc (CVC), a dual chemokine receptor CCR2/CCR5 antagonist shown to be safe in human trials. Importantly, treatment with CVC resulted in amelioration of all aspects of disease severity including serum total bile acids, histological severity score, and fibrosis stage. In conclusion, our results indicate a major role for Ly6Chi monocytes and for CCR2 in PBC pathogenesis and suggest that inhibition of this axis by CVC should be explored in humans through the use of clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1852
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Issue numberAUG
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2018


FundersFunder number
National Institutes of HealthDK067003
Israel Science Foundation


    • Chemokine
    • Macrophages
    • Monocytes
    • Primary biliary cholangitis
    • Therapy


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