The liver is an organ with paradoxic immunologic properties and is known for its tolerant microenvironment, which holds important implications for hepatic diseases. The molecular basis for this local immune suppression, however, is poorly understood. In this study, we aimed to determine the role of liver sinusoidal endothelial cell lectin (LSECtin), a recently identified member of the dendritic cell-specific ICAM-3 grabbing nonintegrin (DC-SIGN) family, in the regulation of hepatic T-cell immune response.
The regulation of T-cell effector function by LSECtin was determined by co-stimulated T cells with anti-CD3/CD28 monoclonal antibody and LSECtin protein, or co-culture of T-cell receptor transgenic T cells with mouse LSECs in vitro. We generated LSECtin knockout mice and prepared recombinant LSECtin protein and complementary DNA plasmids to analyze the role of LSECtin in hepatic T-cell immune regulation in vivo.
We showed that LSECtin specifically recognized activated T cells and negatively regulated their immune responses. In mice with T-cell–mediated acute liver injury, the lack of LSECtin accelerated the disease owing to an increased T-cell immune response, whereas the exogenous administration of recombinant LSECtin protein or plasmid ameliorated the disease via down-regulation of T-cell immunity.