Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is an inflammatory lipotoxic disorder, but how inflammatory cells are recruited and activated within the liver is still unclear. We previously reported that lipotoxic hepatocytes release CXCL10-enriched extracellular vesicles, which are potently chemotactic for cells of the innate immune system. In the present study, we sought to determine the innate immune cell involved in the inflammatory response in murine NASH and the extent to which inhibition of the chemotactic ligand CXCL10 and its cognate receptor CXCR3 could attenuate liver inflammation, injury and fibrosis. C57BL/6J CXCL10-/-, CXCR3-/- and wild type (WT) mice were fed chow or high saturated fat, fructose, and cholesterol (FFC) diet. FFC-fed CXCL10-/- and WT mice displayed similar weight gain, metabolic profile, insulin resistance, and hepatic steatosis. In contrast, compared to the WT mice, FFC-fed CXCL10-/- mice had significantly attenuated liver inflammation, injury and fibrosis. Genetic deletion of CXCL10 reduced FFC-induced proinflammatory hepatic macrophage infiltration, while natural killer cells, natural killer T cells, neutrophils and dendritic cells hepatic infiltration were not significantly affected. Our results suggest that CXCL10-/- mice are protected against diet-induced NASH, in an obesity-independent manner. Macrophage-associated inflammation appears to be the key player in the CXCL10-mediated sterile inflammatory response in murine NASH.
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