Neutrophils play critical roles during the initial phase of hepatic ischemia/reperfusion injury (HIRI). However, the regulation of neutrophil activation, infiltration, and proinflammatory cytokine secretion has not been fully elucidated. In this study, we revealed that OX40 was expressed by neutrophils, its expression in neutrophils was time-dependently upregulated following HIRI, and Ox40 knockout markedly alleviated liver injury. Compared with wild-type neutrophils, the adoptive transfer of Ox40–/– neutrophils decreased HIRI in neutrophil-depleted Rag2/Il2rg–/– or Ox40–/– mice. Moreover, consistently, the in vitro experiments showed that Ox40 not only prolonged neutrophil survival but also promoted proinflammatory cytokines, ROS production, and even neutrophil chemotaxis. Further investigation demonstrated that the knockout of Ox40 in neutrophils inhibited NF-κB signaling via the TRAF1/2/4 and IKKα/IKKβ/IκBα pathways. OX40L and OX86 stimulation could enhance neutrophil activation and survival in vitro and in vivo. In conclusion, our study provides a new understanding of OX40, which is expressed not only in adaptive immune cells but also in innate immune cells, i.e., neutrophils, contributing to the activation and survival of neutrophils. These findings provide a novel potential therapeutic target for the prevention of HIRI during liver transplantation or hepatic surgery.


Hua Jin, Chunpan Zhang, Chengyang Sun, Xinyan Zhao, Dan Tian, Wen Shi, Yue Tian, Kai Liu, Guangyong Sun, Hufeng Xu, Dong Zhang


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