Innate Immune Zonation in the Liver: NF-κB (p50) Activation and C-Reactive Protein Expression in Response to Endotoxemia Are Zone Specific

J Immunol. 2023 May 1;210(9):1372-1385. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.2200900.


Hepatic innate immune function plays an important role in the pathogenesis of many diseases. Importantly, a growing body of literature has firmly established the spatial heterogeneity of hepatocyte metabolic function; however, whether innate immune function is zonated remains unknown. To test this question, we exposed adult C57BL/6 mice to endotoxemia, and hepatic tissue was assessed for the acute phase response (APR). The zone-specific APR was evaluated in periportal and pericentral/centrilobular hepatocytes isolated using digitonin perfusion and on hepatic tissue using RNAscope and immunohistochemistry. Western blot, EMSA, chromatin immunoprecipitation, and immunohistochemistry were used to determine the role of the transcription factor NF-κB in mediating hepatic C-reactive protein (CRP) expression. Finally, the ability of mice lacking the NF-κB subunit p50 (p50-/-) to raise a hepatic APR was evaluated. We found that endotoxemia induces a hepatocyte transcriptional APR in both male and female mice, with Crp, Apcs, Fga, Hp, and Lbp expression being enriched in pericentral/centrilobular hepatocytes. Focusing our work on CRP expression, we determined that NF-κB transcription factor subunit p50 binds to consensus sequence elements present in the murine CRP promoter. Furthermore, pericentral/centrilobular hepatocyte p50 nuclear translocation is temporally associated with zone-specific APR during endotoxemia. Lastly, the APR and CRP expression is blunted in endotoxemic p50-/- mice. These results demonstrate that the murine hepatocyte innate immune response to endotoxemia includes zone-specific activation of transcription factors and target gene expression. These results support further study of zone-specific hepatocyte innate immunity and its role in the development of various disease states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Endotoxemia*
  • Female
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • NF-kappa B p50 Subunit / metabolism
  • NF-kappa B* / metabolism


  • NF-kappa B
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • NF-kappa B p50 Subunit