Inflammation Research

, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 144–152 | Cite as

The differential effects of low dose and high dose concanavalin A on cytokine profile and their importance in liver injury

  • X. Xu
  • H. Wei
  • Z. Dong
  • Y. Chen
  • Z. Tian
Original Research Paper



Intravenous injection of concanavalin A (Con A) can cause mice to suffer from acute liver failure in a dose dependent manner and little is known about the difference between the high dose and the low dose of Con A regarding the immune response they initiate. The aim of this study was to analyze whether differential effects exist between the low dose and high dose of concanavalin A on the intrahepatic immune system and their importance in the development of liver injury.

Materials and methods

A high dose of Con A (15 μg/g) was injected intravenously to induce murine hepatitis. A low dose of Con A (3 μg/g) was injected intravenously 12 h before the injection of the high dose of Con A (15 μg/g). Liver injury was evaluated by serum transaminase assay and H&E staining. Serum cytokine concentrations were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), intrahepatic cytokine and Fas mRNA levels by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. Intracellular cytokine expression and FasL expression were analyzed by flow cytometry and Fas protein expression in hepatocytes by Western-blotting. Intrahepatic apoptosis was evaluated by terminal-deoxynucleotidyl transferase mediated nick end labeling (TUNEL).


Low dose Con A injection induced a distinct cytokine expression profile, characterized by a preferentially elevated serum IL-6 at the early stage of stimulation, whereas high dose Con A injection provoked significant elevation of various cytokines involved in Con A-induced hepatitis. Pretreatment with a low, nonhepatoxic dose of Con A (3 μg/g) significantly decreased production of proinflammatory cytokines induced by the high dose Con A (15 μg/g). Furthermore, low dose Con A pretreatment could significantly decrease the serum levels of transaminases and liver necrosis induced by high dose of Con A. The intrahepatic Fas expression was also apparently reduced, accompanied by a decrease in hepatocyte apoptosis.


Low dose Con A stimulation induced a different cytokine profile from high dose Con A stimulation resulting in differential importance in the development of liver injury.


Concanavalin A (Con A) Liver injury IL-6 IL-4 IFN-γ Fas Apoptosis 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Life SciencesUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaChina
  2. 2.School of PharmacyShandong UniversityShandongChina

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