The hepatoprotective effect of interleukin-6 (IL-6)/signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) has been well documented. However, reports on the role of IL-6/STAT3 in liver regeneration are conflicting probably due to the fact that the model of Stat3 knockout mice were complicated with obesity and fatty liver, which may cause some secondary effects on liver regeneration. To study the direct role of STAT3 and to circumvent the problems of obesity and fatty liver in liver regeneration, we generated conditional STAT3 knockout in the liver (L-Stat3(-/-)) using a transthyretin-driven Cre-lox method. The L-Stat3(-/-) mice were born with the expected Mendelian frequency and showed no obesity or other obvious phenotype. After partial hepatectomy, mortality in the L-Stat3(-/-) mice was significantly higher than the littermate Stat3(f/+) controls in the early time points (<24 h). Hepatocyte DNA synthesis in the survived L-Stat3(-/-) mice slightly decreased as compared with Stat3(f/+) mice at 40 h after partial hepatectomy, whereas similar hepatocyte DNA synthesis was found at other time points and liver mass could be completely recovered in the L-Stat3(-/-) mice. In another model of liver regeneration induced by subcutaneous injection of carbon tetrachloride (CCl(4)), hepatocyte DNA synthesis in the CCl(4)-treated L-Stat3(-/-) mice also decreased as compared with Stat3(f/+) mice at 40 h after injection but not at other time points. In addition, infiltration of neutrophils and monocyte increased in the liver of CCl(4)-treated L-Stat3(-/-) mice compared to wild-type mice. In conclusion, STAT3 is required for survival in the acute stage after 70% hepatectomy and plays a role in inflammatory reaction after hepatocyte necrosis. However, the hepatocytic STAT3 may have limited role in liver mass recovery although DNA synthesis may be impaired.
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