Background & Aims: T cell-mediated hepatitis is a leading cause of acute liver failure; there is no effective treatment, and the mechanisms underlying its pathogenesis are obscure. The aim of this study was to investigate the immune cell-signaling pathways involved-specifically the role of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3)-in T cell-mediated hepatitis in mice. Methods: T cell-mediated hepatitis was induced in mice by injection of concanavalin A (Con A). Mice with myeloid cell-specific and T-cell-specific deletion of STAT3 were generated. Results: STAT3 was activated in myeloid and T cells following Con A injection. Deletion of STAT3 specifically from myeloid cells exacerbated T-cell hepatitis and induced STAT1-dependent production of a T helper cell (Th)1 cytokine (interferon [IFN]-γ) and to a lesser extent of Th17 cytokines (interleukin [IL]-17 and IL-22) in a STAT1-independent manner. In contrast, deletion of STAT3 in T cells reduced T cell-mediated hepatitis and IL-17 production. Furthermore, deletion of IFN-γ completely abolished Con A-induced T-cell hepatitis, whereas deletion of IL-17 slightly but significantly reduced such injury. In vitro experiments indicated that IL-17 promoted liver inflammation but inhibited hepatocyte apoptosis. Conclusions: Myeloid STAT3 activation inhibits T cell-mediated hepatitis via suppression of a Th1 cytokine (IFN-γ) in a STAT1-dependent manner, whereas STAT3 activation in T cells promotes T-cell hepatitis to a lesser extent, via induction of IL-17. Therefore, activation of STAT3 in myeloid cells could be a novel therapeutic strategy for patients with T-cell hepatitis.
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