IDO converts tryptophan to L-kynurenine, and it is noted as a relevant molecule in promoting tolerance and suppressing adaptive immunity. In this study, we examined the effect of IDO in α-galactosylceramide (α-GalCer)-induced hepatitis. The increase in IDO expression in the liver of wild-type (WT) mice administered α-GalCer was confirmed by real-time PCR, Western blotting, and IDO immunohistochemical analysis. The serum alanine aminotransferase levels in IDO-knockout (KO) mice after α-GalCer injection significantly increased compared with those in WT mice. 1-Methyl-D-tryptophan also exacerbated liver injury in this murine hepatitis model. In α-GalCer-induced hepatitis models, TNF-α is critical in the development of liver injury. The mRNA expression and protein level of TNF-α in the liver from IDO-KO mice were more enhanced compared with those in WT mice. The phenotypes of intrahepatic lymphocytes from WT mice and IDO-KO mice treated with α-GalCer were analyzed by flow cytometry, and the numbers of CD49b+ and CD11b+ cells were found to have increased in IDO-KO mice. Moreover, as a result of the increase in the number of NK cells and macrophages in the liver of IDO-KO mice injected with α-GalCer, TNF-α secretion in these mice was greater than that in WT mice. Deficiency of IDO exacerbated liver injury in α-GalCer-induced hepatitis. IDO induced by proinflammatory cytokines may decrease the number of TNF-α-producing immune cells in the liver. Thus, IDO may suppress overactive immune response in the α-GalCer-induced hepatitis model.
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