Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

, Volume 452, Issue 1–2, pp 187–197 | Cite as

Mesenchymal stem cells attenuate sepsis-induced liver injury via inhibiting M1 polarization of Kupffer cells

  • Xujing Liang
  • Taoyuan Li
  • Qiuchan Zhou
  • Sainan Pi
  • Yadan Li
  • Xiaojia Chen
  • Zeping Weng
  • Hongmei Li
  • Ying Zhao
  • Huadong WangEmail author
  • Youpeng ChenEmail author


Sepsis is a leading cause of death in intensive care units that can result in acute hepatic damage. Animal experiments and clinical trials have shown that mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy has some beneficial in several liver diseases. However, the protective effects of MSC therapy on sepsis-induced hepatic damage and associated mechanisms are not completely understood. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of MSCs on sepsis-induced liver injury and underlying mechanisms. A rat model of sepsis-induced liver injury was established by cecal ligation and puncture, and serum alanine aminotransferase and aspartate transaminase activities as well as liver histological changes were measured. Inflammatory cytokines, Kupffer cell M1 phenotype markers, and associated signal molecules were also determined in septic rats and in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-treated Kupffer cells. Our results showed that injection of MSCs attenuated sepsis-induced liver injury. Treatment with MSCs inhibited activation of Kupffer cells towards M1 phenotype, attenuated TNF-α and IL-6 expression, and promoted IL-4 and IL-10 expression in septic rats and LPS-treated Kupffer cells. Furthermore, MSCs also inhibited the nuclear translocation of nuclear factor-kappa B in LPS-challenged Kupffer cells and the liver of septic rats. These results indicated that MSCs attenuated sepsis-induced liver injury through suppressing M1 polarization of Kupffer cells.


Sepsis Mesenchymal stem cells Kupffer cells Liver injury 



This study was supported by Science and Technology Planning Project of Guangdong Province, China (Grant number 32415102) and Jinan University’s Scientific Research Cultivation and Innovation Fund (Grant number 11615481).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Research involving human and/or animal rights

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the guide for the care and use of laboratory animals at Jinan University School of Medicine.

Supplementary material

11010_2018_3424_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.2 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1276 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Infectious Disease, The First Affiliated HospitalJinan UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Institute of Laboratory Animal ScienceJinan UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Institute of BiomedicineJinan UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Department of Pathology, The First Affiliated HospitalJinan UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  5. 5.Department of Pathophysiology, School of MedicineJinan UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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