Fibrinogen-like protein 1 (FGL1) contributes to the proliferation and metabolism of hepatocytes; however, as a major ligand of the immune checkpoint, its role in the liver regional immune microenvironment is poorly understood. Hepatocytes specifically and highly expressed FGL1 under normal physiological conditions. Increases in hepatic CD8+ T and NK cell numbers and functions were found in Fgl1-deficient (Fgl1–/–) mice, but not in the spleen or lymph node, similar to findings in anti-FGL1 mAb–treated wild-type mice. Furthermore, Fgl1 deficiency or anti-FGL1 mAb blockade restrained liver metastasis and slowed the growth of orthotopic tumors, with significantly prolonged survival of tumor-bearing mice. Tumor-infiltrating hepatic CD8+ T and NK cells upregulated the expression of lymphocyte activation gene-3 (LAG-3) and exhibited stronger antitumor activities after anti-FGL1 treatment. The antitumor efficacy of FGL1 blockade depended on cytotoxic T lymphocytes and NK cells, demonstrated by using a cell-deficient mouse model and cell transfer in vivo. In vitro, FGL1 directly inhibited hepatic T and NK cells related to the receptor LAG-3. In conclusion, hepatocyte-derived FGL1 played critical immunoregulatory roles in the liver and contributed to liver metastasis and tumor growth by inhibiting CD8+ T and NK cell functions via the receptor LAG-3, providing a new strategy for liver cancer immunotherapy.


Fengjia Xi, Haoyu Sun, Hui Peng, Zhexiong Lian, Haiming Wei, Zhigang Tian, Rui Sun, Yongyan Chen


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