Hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) play a key role in the development of liver fibrosis caused by schistosomiasis. Chemokines were widely expressed and involved in cellular activation, proliferation and migration in inflammatory and infectious diseases. However, little is known about the expressions of chemokines on HSCs in the schistosoma infection. In addition, the roles of chemokines in pathogenesis of liver fibrosis are not totally clear. In our study, we used microarray to analyze the temporal gene expressions of primary HSCs isolated from mice with both acute and chronic schistosomiasis. Our microarray data showed that most of the chemokines expressed on HSCs were upregulated at 3 weeks post-infection (p.i) when the egg granulomatous response was not obviously evoked in the liver. However, some of them like CXCL9, CXCL10 and CXCL11 were subsequently decreased at 6 weeks p.i when the granulomatous response reached the peak. In the chronic stage, most of the differentially expressed chemokines maintained persistent high-abundances. Furthermore, several chemokines including CCR2, CCR5, CCR7, CXCR3, CXCR4, CCL2, CCL5, CCL21, CXCL9 and CXCL10 were expressed by HCSs and the abundances of them were changed following the praziquantel treatment in the chronic stage, indicating that chemokines were possibly necessary for the persistence of the chronic stage. In vitro experiments, hepatic non-parenchymal cells, primary HSCs and human HSCs line LX-2 were stimulated by chemokines. The results showed that CXCL9 and CXCL10, but not CXCL11 or CXCL4, significantly inhibited the gene expressions of Col1α1, Col3α1 and α-SMA, indicating the potential anti-fibrosis effect of CXCL9 and CXCL10 in schistosomiasis. More interestingly, soluble egg antigen (SEA) of Schistosoma japonicum was able to inhibit transcriptional expressions of some chemokines by LX-2 cells, suggesting that SEA was capable of regulating the expression pattern of chemokine family and modulating the hepatic immune microenvironment in schistosomiasis.
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