Interferon tau–induced hepatocyte apoptosis in sheep Academic Article uri icon


  • Clinical applications of Type I interferon (IFN) are limited by adverse side effects mediated largely by unknown mechanisms. This study examined the mechanisms of acute hepatic injury in lambs treated with systemic administration of IFN-tau, a Type I IFN. Liver tissues were collected at 24, 48, or 96 hours after treatment with either IFN-tau or saline. Histopathology revealed acute hepatopathy including cellular swelling, cytoplasmic aggregates, and apoptosis in all IFN-tau-treated lambs, which were accompanied by elevation of aspartate transaminase (AST) (P <.01). The number of apoptotic hepatocytes in IFN-tau-treated lambs was higher than for control lambs (P <.001). Immunohistochemistry for proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) revealed that IFN-tau induced hepatocyte growth arrest at the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle and that the majority of hepatocytes in S or G2 phase were eliminated by apoptosis. We investigated expression of bax-alpha and bcl-2, acting as pro- and antiapoptotic molecules, in IFN-tau-induced apoptosis. Northern blot analysis revealed increased expression of bax-alpha messenger RNA (mRNA) in IFN-tau-treated lambs (P <.01) compared with control lambs, consistent with the expression pattern for bax-alpha protein. However, there was no detectable difference in expression of bcl-2 proteins between control and IFN-tau-treated lambs. The levels of bax-alpha associated with the mitochondria also increased during IFN-tau treatment. Bax-alpha immunostaining showed scattered immunoreactive hepatocytes with morphological hallmarks of apoptosis. These results suggest that IFN-tau induces growth arrest as well as apoptosis by regulating bax-alpha expression. These pathological effects of IFN-tau on sheep liver indicate potential mechanisms of Type 1 IFN-induced hepatotoxicity in animals and humans.

published proceedings

  • Hepatology

author list (cited authors)

  • Kim, H. T., Stoica, G., Bazer, F. W., & Ott, T. L.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Kim, HT||Stoica, G||Bazer, FW||Ott, TL

publication date

  • January 2000