Combination of ursodeoxycholic acid and glucocorticoids upregulates the AE2 alternate promoter in human liver cells.
ABSTRACT: Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a cholestatic disease associated with autoimmune phenomena and alterations in both biliary bicarbonate excretion and expression of the bicarbonate carrier AE2. The bile acid ursodeoxycholic acid (UCDA) is currently used in treatment of cholestatic liver diseases and is the treatment of choice in PBC; however, a subset of PBC patients respond poorly to UDCA monotherapy. In these patients, a combination of UDCA and glucocorticoid therapy appears to be beneficial. To address the mechanism of this benefit, we analyzed the effects of UDCA and dexamethasone on AE2 gene expression in human liver cells from hepatocyte and cholangiocyte lineages. The combination of UDCA and dexamethasone, but not UDCA or dexamethasone alone, increased the expression of liver-enriched alternative mRNA isoforms AE2b1 and AE2b2 and enhanced AE2 activity. Similar effects were obtained after replacing UDCA with UDCA conjugates. In in vitro and in vivo reporter assays, we found that a UDCA/dexamethasone combination upregulated human AE2 alternate overlapping promoter sequences from which AE2b1 and AE2b2 are expressed. In chromatin immunoprecipitation assays, we demonstrated that combination UCDA/dexamethasone treatment induced p300-related interactions between HNF1 and glucocorticoid receptor on the AE2 alternate promoter. Our data provide a potential molecular explanation for the beneficial effects of the combination of UDCA and glucocorticoids in PBC patients with inadequate response to UDCA monotherapy.
Project description:Background & Aims:Patients with primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) exhibit reduced AE2/SLC4A2 gene expression in the liver and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). AE2 encodes a Cl-/HCO3 - exchanger involved in biliary bicarbonate secretion and intracellular pH regulation. Reduced AE2 expression in PBC may be pathogenic, as Ae2-knockout mice reproduce characteristic PBC features. Herein, we aimed to identify CpG-methylation abnormalities in AE2 promoter regions that might contribute to the reduced gene transcription in PBC livers and PBMCs. Methods:CpG-cytosine methylation rates were interrogated at 1-base pair resolution in upstream and alternate AE2 promoter regions through pyrosequencing of bisulphite-modified genomic DNA from liver specimens and PBMCs. AE2a and alternative AE2b1 and AE2b2 mRNA levels were measured by real-time PCR. Human lymphoblastoid-T2 cells were treated with 5-aza-2´-deoxycytidine for demethylation assays. Results:AE2 promoters were found to be hypermethylated in PBC livers compared to normal and diseased liver specimens. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis showed that minimal CpG-hypermethylation clusters of 3 AE2a-CpG sites and 4 alternate-AE2b2-CpG sites specifically differentiated PBC from normal and diseased controls, with mean methylation rates inversely correlating with respective transcript levels. Additionally, in PBMCs a minimal cluster of 3 hypermethylated AE2a-CpG sites distinguished PBC from controls, and mean methylation rates correlated negatively with AE2a mRNA levels in these immune cells. Alternate AE2b2/AE2b1 promoters in PBMCs were constitutively hypermethylated, in line with absent alternative mRNA expression in diseased and healthy PBMCs. Demethylation assays treating lymphoblastoid-T2 cells with 5-aza-2´-deoxycytidine triggered AE2b2/AE2b1 expression and upregulated AE2a-promoter expression. Conclusions:Disease-specific hypermethylation of AE2 promoter regions and subsequent downregulation of AE2-gene expression in the liver and PBMCs of patients with PBC might be critically involved in the pathogenesis of this complex disease. Lay summary:Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) is a chronic immune-associated cholestatic liver disease with unclear complex/multifactorial etiopathogenesis affecting mostly middle-aged women. Patients with PBC exhibit reduced expression of the AE2/SLC4A2 gene. Herein, we found that AE2 promoter regions are hypermethylated in the liver and peripheral blood mononuclear cells of patients with PBC. This increased methylation is associated with downregulated AE2-gene expression, which might contribute to the pathogenesis of PBC. Therefore, novel epigenetic targets may improve treatment in patients with PBC who respond poorly to current pharmacological therapies.
Project description:BACKGROUND & AIMS: Secretin induces bicarbonate-rich hydrocholeresis in healthy individuals, but not in untreated patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC). Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA)--the first choice treatment for PBC--restores the secretin response. Compared with humans, secretin has poor effect in experimental normal-rat models with biliary drainage, although it may elicit hydrocholeresis when the bile-acid pool is maintained. In view of the benefits of UDCA in PBC, we used normal-rat models to unravel the acute contribution of UDCA (and/or taurine-conjugated TUDCA) for eliciting the biliary secretin response. METHODS: Intravascular and/or intrabiliary administration of agonists and inhibitors was performed in normal rats with biliary monitoring. Secretin/bile-acid interplay was analyzed in 3D cultured rat cholangiocytes that formed expansive cystic structures with intralumenal hydroionic secretion. RESULTS: In vivo, secretin stimulates hydrocholeresis upon UDCA/TUDCA infusion, but does not modify the intrinsic hypercholeretic effect of dehydrocholic acid (DHCA). The former effect is dependent on microtubule polymerization, and involves PKC?, PI3K and MEK pathways, as shown by colchicine (i.p.) and retrograde biliary inhibitors. In vitro, while secretin alone accelerates the spontaneous expansion of 3D-cystic structures, this effect is enhanced in the presence of TUDCA, but not UDCA or DHCA. Experiments with inhibitors and Ca(2+)-chelator confirmed that the synergistic effect of secretin plus TUDCA involves microtubules, intracellular Ca(2+), PKC?, PI3K, PKA and MEK pathways. Gene silencing also demonstrated the involvement of the bicarbonate extruder Ae2. CONCLUSIONS: UDCA is conjugated in order to promote secretin-stimulated hydrocholeresis in rats through Ae2, microtubules, intracellular Ca(2+), PKC?, PI3K, PKA, and MEK.
Project description:<h4>Unlabelled</h4>Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a chronic cholestatic disease of unknown etiopathogenesis showing progressive autoimmune-mediated cholangitis. In PBC patients, the liver and lymphocytes exhibit diminished expression of AE2/SLC4A2, a Cl-/HCO3- anion exchanger involved in biliary bicarbonate secretion and intracellular pH regulation. Decreased AE2 expression may be pathogenic as Ae2a,b(-/-) mice reproduce hepatobiliary and immunological features resembling PBC. To understand the role of AE2 deficiency for autoimmunity predisposition we focused on the phenotypic changes of T cells that occur over the life-span of Ae2a,b(-/-) mice. At early ages (1-9 months), knockout mice had reduced numbers of intrahepatic T cells, which exhibited increased activation, programmed-cell-death (PD)-1 expression, and apoptosis. Moreover, young knockouts had upregulated PD-1 ligand (PD-L1) on bile-duct cells, and administration of neutralizing anti-PD-L1 antibodies prevented their intrahepatic T-cell deletion. Older (? 10 months) knockouts, however, showed intrahepatic accumulation of cytotoxic CD8(+) T cells with downregulated PD-1 and diminished apoptosis. In-vitro DNA demethylation with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine partially reverted PD-1 downregulation of intrahepatic CD8(+) T cells from aged knockouts.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Early in life, AE2 deficiency results in intrahepatic T-cell activation and PD-1/PD-L1 mediated deletion. With aging, intrahepatic CD8+ T cells epigenetically suppress PD-1, and their consequential expansion and further activation favor autoimmune cholangitis.
Project description:Cl(-) /HCO3- anion exchanger 2 (AE2) participates in intracellular pH homeostasis and secretin-stimulated biliary bicarbonate secretion. AE2/SLC4A2 gene expression is reduced in liver and blood mononuclear cells from patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC). Our previous findings of hepatic and immunological features mimicking PBC in Ae2-deficient mice strongly suggest that decreased AE2 expression might be involved in the pathogenesis of PBC. Here, we tested the potential role of microRNA 506 (miR-506) - predicted as candidate to target AE2 mRNA - for the decreased expression of AE2 in PBC. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction showed that miR-506 expression is increased in PBC livers versus normal liver specimens. In situ hybridization in liver sections confirmed that miR-506 is up-regulated in the intrahepatic bile ducts of PBC livers, compared with normal and primary sclerosing cholangitis livers. Precursor-mediated overexpression of miR-506 in SV40-immortalized normal human cholangiocytes (H69 cells) led to decreased AE2 protein expression and activity, as indicated by immunoblotting and microfluorimetry, respectively. Moreover, miR-506 overexpression in three-dimensional (3D)-cultured H69 cholangiocytes blocked the secretin-stimulated expansion of cystic structures developed under the 3D conditions. Luciferase assays and site-directed mutagenesis demonstrated that miR-506 specifically may bind the 3'untranslated region (3'UTR) of AE2 messenger RNA (mRNA) and prevent protein translation. Finally, cultured PBC cholangiocytes showed decreased AE2 activity, together with miR-506 overexpression, compared to normal human cholangiocytes, and transfection of PBC cholangiocytes with anti-miR-506 was able to improve their AE2 activity.miR-506 is up-regulated in cholangiocytes from PBC patients, binds the 3'UTR region of AE2 mRNA, and prevents protein translation, leading to diminished AE2 activity and impaired biliary secretory functions. In view of the putative pathogenic role of decreased AE2 in PBC, miR-506 may constitute a potential therapeutic target for this disease.
Project description:Cholestatic liver diseases result from gradual destruction of bile ducts, accumulation of bile acids and self-perpetuation of the inflammatory process leading to damage to cholangiocytes and hepatocytes. If left untreated, cholestasis will lead to fibrosis, biliary cirrhosis, and ultimately end-stage liver disease. Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) are the two most common chronic cholestatic liver diseases affecting adults, and their etiologies remain puzzling. While treatment with ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) has significantly improved outcomes and prolonged transplant-free survival for patients with PBC, treatment options for UDCA nonresponders remain limited. Furthermore, there is no available medical therapy for PSC. With recent advances in molecular biochemistry specifically related to bile acid regulation and understanding of immunologic pathways, novel pharmacologic treatments have emerged. In this review, we discuss the standard of care and emphasize the various emerging treatments for PBC and PSC.
Project description:Background & Aims: Late-stage primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) is defined by bile duct loss, ductular reaction, peribiliary inflammation and fibrosis. Loss of anion exchanger 2 (AE2), the ‘bicarbonate umbrella’ and ductulo-canalicular junctions (DCJ) are hypothesized to promote PBC progression. The secretin (Sct)/secretin receptor (SR) axis controls cystic fibrosis transmembrane receptor (CFTR) activation and AE2 opening, and controls choleresis. We aimed to define the impact of Sct/SR signaling on biliary secretory processes and subsequent injury in late-stage PBC mouse model and human samples. Methods: Female and male wild-type (WT) and dominant-negative transforming growth factor beta receptor II (dnTGFβRII, late-stage PBC model) at 32 wks of age were treated with Sct for 1 wk or 8 wks. Pathways mediated by Sct were identified by RNA-seq in isolated cholangiocytes. Sct/SR/CFTR/AE2 expression and MUC1 levels were evaluated in human control and late-stage PBC. Results: Biliary Sct, SR, CFTR and AE2 expression is reduced in late-stage PBC mouse models and human samples. Sct treatment decreased bile duct loss, ductular reaction, inflammation and fibrosis in late-stage PBC models, as well as hepatic bile acid release and DCJ formation. RNA-seq identified that Sct promoted mature epithelial cell marker expression, specifically anterior grade 2 (Agr2, expressed only in cholangiocytes). Late-stage PBC models and human samples had reduced biliary MUC1, which was enhanced with Sct treatment. Conclusion: Loss of the Sct/SR pathway in late-stage PBC results in a faulty ‘bicarbonate umbrella’ and reduced Agr2 and mucin production. Sct restores cholangiocyte secretory processes and DCJ formation through enhanced mature cholangiocyte phenotypes and healthy bile duct growth. The Sct/SR axis may be a therapeutic target for late-stage PBC patients. Overall design: intrahepatic cholangiocytes analyzed from WT, WT+secretin 8 wk, PBC model (dnTGFBRII), and PBC model + secretin 8 wk. WT cholangiocytes are the control sample. We analyzed male and female samples separately. 6-8 mice per treatment group were pooled to extract cholangiocytes, and total RNA from this pooled population of cholangiocytes was sequenced in triplicate at GeneWiz using an Illumina platform.
Project description:Primary biliary cholangitis (formerly known as primary biliary cirrhosis, PBC) is an autoimmune liver disease in which a cycle of immune mediated biliary epithelial cell injury, cholestasis and progressive fibrosis can culminate over time in an end-stage biliary cirrhosis. Both genetic and environmental influences are presumed relevant to disease initiation. PBC is most prevalent in women and those over the age of 50, but a spectrum of disease is recognised in adult patients globally; male sex, younger age at onset (<45) and advanced disease at presentation are baseline predictors of poorer outcome. As the disease is increasingly diagnosed through the combination of cholestatic serum liver tests and the presence of antimitochondrial antibodies, most presenting patients are not cirrhotic and the term cholangitis is more accurate. Disease course is frequently accompanied by symptoms that can be burdensome for patients, and management of patients with PBC must address, in a life-long manner, both disease progression and symptom burden. Licensed therapies include ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) and obeticholic acid (OCA), alongside experimental new and re-purposed agents. Disease management focuses on initiation of UDCA for all patients and risk stratification based on baseline and on-treatment factors, including in particular the response to treatment. Those intolerant of treatment with UDCA or those with high-risk disease as evidenced by UDCA treatment failure (frequently reflected in trial and clinical practice as an alkaline phosphatase >1.67?× upper limit of normal and/or elevated bilirubin) should be considered for second-line therapy, of which OCA is the only currently licensed National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommended agent. Follow-up of patients is life-long and must address treatment of the disease and management of associated symptoms.
Project description:Formerly termed primary biliary cirrhosis, primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) is a chronic and progressive cholestatic liver disease characterized by the presence of antimitochondrial antibodies. Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) therapy is the most effective and approved treatment for PBC and leads to a favorable outcome in the vast majority of cases. Although the etiology of PBC has not yet been elucidated, human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II alleles have been consistently associated with disease onset for decades. Individuals in different geographic regions of the world may have varying susceptibility alleles that reflect indigenous triggering antigens. In this review, we describe the influence of HLA alleles and other gene polymorphisms on PBC along with the results of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on this disease.
Project description:Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) is a rare autoimmune cholestatic liver disease that may progress to fibrosis or cirrhosis. Treatment options are currently limited. Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) remains first-line therapy and has been proven to normalize serum biochemistries, halt histologic disease progression, and lead to patient survival comparable to the general population. Obeticholic acid (OCA) was recently approved as adjunct therapy in PBC patients with inadequate response or intolerance to UDCA. However, OCA has been associated with worsening pruritus in clinical studies which may limit its use in this patient population. Several studies are currently underway to address the lack of treatment options for PBC. Of these, fibrates, which have been used in Japan for over a decade, have produced promising results. Furthermore, as currently approved therapies for PBC do not address the potentially debilitating clinical symptoms of PBC such as pruritus and fatigue, supplemental therapy is often required for symptom control.
Project description:Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) is a rare chronic cholestatic liver disease that may progress to biliary cirrhosis if left untreated. The first-line therapy for PBC is ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA). Unfortunately, 1 of 3 patients does not respond to UDCA. These patients are at risk for developing clinical events, including cirrhosis, complications of portal hypertension, hepatocellular carcinoma, liver transplant, or death. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved obeticholic acid to be used in certain patients with PBC. Off-label therapies are also used, and several other therapies are currently under evaluation. Real-world effectiveness of newly approved and off-label therapies remains unknown. TARGET-PBC is a 5-year, longitudinal, observational study of patients with PBC that will evaluate the effectiveness of clinical practice interventions and provide practical information unobtainable in registration trials. Enrollment will take place at both academic and community sites. In addition to consenting to medical records review, participants will be asked to provide an annual blood sample and complete patient reported outcome surveys at predetermined intervals. Any available liver biopsies will be digitally preserved. Conclusion: Key study outcomes will be the evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of PBC interventions and the assessment of disease progression under real-world conditions. (Hepatology Communications 2018;2:484-491).