IL-1β is an important mediator of innate inflammatory responses and has been shown to contribute to liver injury in a number of etiologies. HIV patients have increased necroinflammation and more rapid fibrosis progression in chronic liver injury compared to non-HIV-infected patients. As the resident liver macrophage is critical to the IL-1β response to microbial translocation in chronic liver disease, we aim to examine the impact of HIV-1 and LPS stimulation on the IL-1β response of the resident hepatic macrophages. We isolated primary human liver macrophages from liver resection specimens, treated them with HIV-1 BaL and/or LPS ex vivo, examined the IL-1β response, and then studied underlying mechanisms. Furthermore, we examined IL-1β expression in liver tissues derived from HIV-1 patients compared to those with no underlying liver disease. HIV-1 up-regulated TLR4 and CD14 expression on isolated primary CD68+ human liver macrophages and contributed to the IL-1β response to LPS stimulation as evidenced by TLR4 blocking. Nucleotide-binding domain, leucine-rich-containing family, pyrin domain-containing-3 (NLRP3) was shown to be involved in the IL-1β response of liver macrophages to HIV-1 infection and NLRP3 blocking experiments in primary CD68+ liver macrophages confirmed the contribution of the NLRP3-caspase 1 inflammatory signaling pathway in the IL-1β response. High in situ IL-1β expression was found in CD68 + cells in human liver tissues from HIV-1-infected patients, suggesting a critical role of IL-1β responses in patients infected by HIV. HIV infection sensitizes the IL-1β response of liver macrophages to LPS through up-regulation of CD14 and TLR4 expression and downstream activation of the NLRP3-caspase 1 pathway. These findings have implications for enhanced immune activation in HIV + patients and mechanisms for rapid fibrosis progression in patients with chronic liver injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)783-795
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Leukocyte Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • HIV
  • IL-1β
  • NLRP3 activation
  • TLR4
  • liver macrophages


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