Therapeutic effects of serum extracellular vesicles in liver fibrosis.
ABSTRACT: The lack of approved therapies for hepatic fibrosis seriously limits medical management of patients with chronic liver disease. Since extracellular vesicles (EVs) function as conduits for intercellular molecular transfer, we investigated if EVs from healthy individuals have anti-fibrotic properties. Hepatic fibrogenesis or fibrosis in carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)- or thioacetic acid-induced liver injury models in male or female mice were suppressed by serum EVs from normal mice (EVN) but not from fibrotic mice (EVF). CCl4-treated mice undergoing EVN therapy also exhibited reduced levels of hepatocyte death, inflammatory infiltration, circulating AST/ALT levels and hepatic or circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines. Hepatic histology, liver function tests or circulating proinflammatory cytokine levels were unaltered in control mice receiving EVN. As determined using PKH26-labelled EVN, principal target cells included hepatic stellate cells (HSC; a normally quiescent fibroblastic cell that undergoes injury-induced activation and produces fibrosis during chronic injury) or hepatocytes which showed increased EVN binding after, respectively, activation or exposure to CCl4. In vitro, EVN decreased proliferation and fibrosis-associated molecule expression in activated HSC, while reversing the inhibitory effects of CCl4 or ethanol on hepatocyte proliferation. In mice, microRNA-34c, -151-3p, -483-5p, -532-5p and -687 were more highly expressed in EVN than EVF and mimics of these microRNAs (miRs) individually suppressed fibrogenic gene expression in activated HSC. A role for these miRs in contributing to EVN actions was shown by the ability of their corresponding antagomirs to individually and/or collectively block the therapeutic effects of EVN on activated HSC or injured hepatocytes. Similarly, the activated phenotype of human LX-2 HSC was attenuated by serum EVs from healthy human subjects and contained higher miR-34c, -151-3p, -483-5p or -532-5p than EVs from hepatic fibrosis patients. In conclusion, serum EVs from normal healthy individuals are inherently anti-fibrogenic and anti-fibrotic, and contain microRNAs that have therapeutic actions in activated HSC or injured hepatocytes. Abbreviations: ALT: alanine aminotransferase; AST: aspartate aminotransferase; CCl4: carbon tetrachloride; CCN2: connective tissue growth factor; E: eosin; EGFP: enhanced green fluorescent protein; EVs: extracellular vesicles; EVF: serum EVs from mice with experimental hepatic fibrosis; EVN: serum EVs from normal mice; H: hematoxylin; HSC: hepatic stellate cell; IHC: immunohistochemistry; IL: interleukin; MCP-1: monocyte chemotactic protein-1; miR: microRNA; mRNA: messenger RNA; NTA: nanoparticle tracking analysis; PCNA: proliferating cell nuclear antigen; qRT-PCR: quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction; SDS-PAGE: sodium dodecyl sulphate - polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis; αSMA: alpha smooth muscle actin; TAA: thioacetic acid; TG: transgenic; TGF-β: transforming growth factor beta; TEM: transmission electron microscopy; TNFα: tumour necrosis factor alpha.
Project description:Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are nano-sized membrane-limited organelles that are liberated from their producer cells, traverse the intercellular space, and may interact with other cells resulting in the uptake of the EV molecular payload by the recipient cells which may become functionally reprogramed as a result. Previous in vitro studies showed that EVs purified from normal mouse AML12 hepatocytes ("EVNorm") attenuate the pro-fibrogenic activities of activated hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), a principal fibrosis-producing cell type in the liver. In a 10-day CCl4 injury model, liver fibrogenesis, expression of hepatic cellular communication network factor 2 [CCN2, also known as connective tissue growth factor (CTGF)] or alpha smooth muscle actin (?SMA) was dose-dependently blocked during concurrent administration of EVNorm. Hepatic inflammation and expression of inflammatory cytokines were also reduced by EVNorm. In a 5-week CCl4 fibrosis model in mice, interstitial collagen deposition and mRNA and/or protein for collagen 1a1, ?SMA or CCN2 were suppressed following administration of EVNorm over the last 2 weeks. RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) revealed that EVNorm therapy of mice receiving CCl4 for 5 weeks resulted in significant differences [false discovery rate (FDR) <0.05] in expression of 233 CCl4-regulated hepatic genes and these were principally associated with fibrosis, cell cycle, cell division, signal transduction, extracellular matrix (ECM), heat shock, cytochromes, drug detoxification, adaptive immunity, and membrane trafficking. Selected gene candidates from these groups were verified by qRT-PCR as targets of EVNorm in CCl4-injured livers. Additionally, EVNorm administration resulted in reduced activation of p53, a predicted upstream regulator of 40% of the genes for which expression was altered by EVNorm following CCl4 liver injury. In vitro, EVs from human HepG2 hepatocytes suppressed fibrogenic gene expression in activated mouse HSC and reversed the reduced viability or proliferation of HepG2 cells or AML12 cells exposed to CCl4. Similarly, EVs produced by primary human hepatocytes (PHH) protected PHH or human LX2 HSC from CCl4-mediated changes in cell number or gene expression in vitro. These findings show that EVs from human or mouse hepatocytes regulate toxin-associated gene expression leading to therapeutic outcomes including suppression of fibrogenesis, hepatocyte damage, and/or inflammation.
Project description:Background: Hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) are the primary collagen-secreting cells in the liver. While HSCs are the major cell type involved in the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis, hepatic macrophages also play an important role in mediating fibrogenesis and fibrosis resolution. Previously, we observed a reduction in HSC activation, proliferation, and collagen synthesis following exposure to human amnion epithelial cells (hAEC) and hAEC-conditioned media (hAEC-CM). This suggested that specific factors secreted by hAEC might be effective in ameliorating liver fibrosis. hAEC-derived extracellular vesicles (hAEC-EVs), which are nanosized (40-100 nm) membrane bound vesicles, may act as novel cell-cell communicators. Accordingly, we evaluated the efficacy of hAEC-EV in modulating liver fibrosis in a mouse model of chronic liver fibrosis and in human HSC. Methods: The hAEC-EVs were isolated and characterized. C57BL/6 mice with CCl4-induced liver fibrosis were administered hAEC-EV, hAEC-CM, or hAEC-EV depleted medium (hAEC-EVDM). LX2 cells, a human HSC line, and bone marrow-derived mouse macrophages were exposed to hAEC-EV, hAEC-CM, and hAEC-EVDM. Mass spectrometry was used to examine the proteome profile of each preparation. Results: The extent of liver fibrosis and number of activated HSCs were reduced significantly in CCl4-treated mice given hAEC-EVs, hAEC-CM, and hAEC EVDM compared to untreated controls. Hepatic macrophages were significantly decreased in all treatment groups, where a predominant M2 phenotype was observed. Human HSCs cultured with hAEC-EV and hAEC-CM displayed a significant reduction in collagen synthesis and hAEC-EV, hAEC-CM, and hAEC-EVDM altered macrophage polarization in bone marrow-derived mouse macrophages. Proteome analysis showed that 164 proteins were unique to hAEC-EV in comparison to hAEC-CM and hAEC-EVDM, and 51 proteins were co-identified components with the hAEC-EV fraction. Conclusion: This study provides novel data showing that hAEC-derived EVs significantly reduced liver fibrosis and macrophage infiltration to an extent similar to hAEC-EVDM and hAEC-CM. hAEC-EV-based therapy may be a potential therapeutic option for liver fibrosis.
Project description:Progression of fibrosis and the development of cirrhosis are responsible for the liver related morbidity and mortality associated with chronic liver diseases. There is currently a great unmet need for effective anti-fibrotic strategies. Stem cells play a central role in wound healing responses to restore liver homeostasis following injury. Here we tested the hypothesis that extracellular vesicles (EVs) isolated from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) modulate hepatic stellate cell (HSCs) activation and may have anti-fibrotic effects. Human iPSCs were generated by reprogramming primary skin fibroblasts. EVs were isolated by differential centrifugation, quantified by flow cytometry (FACS) and characterized by dynamic light scattering (DLS) and electron microscopy (TEM). Primary human HSCs were activated with TGF? (10 ng/mL) and exposed to iPSC-EVs. Efficacy of iPSC-EVs was tested on HSC in vitro and in two murine models of liver injury (CCl4 and bile duct ligation). Characterization of iPSC-derived EVs by flow cytometry identified a large population of EVs released by iPSC, primarily with a diameter of 300 nm and that could be visualized by TEM as round, cup-shaped objects. Fluorescent tracing assays detected iPSC-EVs in HSC cytosol after a short incubation and EV uptake by HSCs resulted in both decrease of pro-fibrogenic markers ?SMA, CollagenI?1, Fibronectin and TIMP-1 and HSC pro-fibrogenic responses such as chemotaxis and proliferation. Genomics analyses of iPSC-EV miRNA cargo revealed 22 highly expressed miRNAs, among which miR-92a-3p resulted the most abundant. Transcriptome analysis identified 60 genes down-modulated and 235 up-regulated in TGF-?-primed HSC in presence or absence of iPSC-EVs. Intravenous injection of iPSC-EVs in CCl4 and bile duct ligation-induced liver fibrosis resulted in anti-fibrotic effects at protein and gene levels. Results of this study identify iPSC-EVs as a novel anti-fibrotic approach that may reduce or reverse liver fibrosis in patients with chronic liver disease.
Project description:Aberrant Wnt/?-catenin pathway contributes to the development of liver fibrosis. MicroRNAs (MiRNAs) are found to act as regulators of the activation of hepatic stellate cell (HSC) in liver fibrosis. However, whether miRNAs activate Wnt/?-catenin pathway in activated HSCs during liver fibrosis is largely unknown. In this study, we found that Salvianolic acid B (Sal B) treatment significantly inhibited liver fibrosis in CCl4-treated rats, HSC-T6 cells and rat primary HSCs, resulting in the suppression of type I? collagen and alpha-smooth muscle actin. Also, Sal B suppressed HSC activation and cell proliferation in vitro. Interestingly, Sal B treatment induced the inactivation of Wnt/?-catenin pathway, with an increase in P-?-catenin and Wnt inhibitory factor 1 (WIF1). We demonstrated that the anti-fibrotic effects caused by Sal B were, at least in part, via WIF1. Moreover, our study revealed that miR-17-5p was reduced in vivo and in vitro after Sal B treatment. As confirmed by luciferase activity assays, WIF1 was a direct target of miR-17-5p. Notably, the suppression of HSCs induced by Sal B was almost inhibited by miR-17-5p mimics. Collectively, we demonstrated that miR-17-5p activates Wnt/?-catenin pathway to result in HSC activation through inhibiting WIF1 expression.
Project description:Recent studies suggest that Src family kinase (SFK) plays important roles in systemic sclerosis and pulmonary fibrosis. However, how SFKs contributed to the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis remains largely unknown. Here, we investigated the role of Fyn, a member of SFK, in hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activation and liver fibrosis, and evaluated the anti-fibrotic effects of Saracatinib, a clinically proven safe Fyn inhibitor. Fyn activation was examined in human normal and fibrotic liver tissues. The roles of Fyn in HSC activation and liver fibrosis were evaluated in HSC cell lines by using Fyn siRNA and in Fyn knockout mice. The effects of Saracatinib on HSC activation and liver fibrosis were determined in primary HSCs and CCl4 induced liver fibrosis model. We showed that the Fyn was activated in the liver of human fibrosis patients. TGF-? induced the activation of Fyn in HSC cell lines. Knockdown of Fyn significantly blocked HSC activation, proliferation, and migration. Fyn deficient mice were resistant to CCl4 induced liver fibrosis. Saracatinib treatment abolished the activation of Fyn, downregulated the Fyn/FAK/N-WASP signaling in HSCs, and subsequently prevented the activation of HSCs. Saracatinib treatment significantly reduced the severity liver fibrosis induced by CCl4 in mice. In conclusions, our findings supported the critical role of Fyn in HSC activation and development of liver fibrosis. Fyn could serve as a promising drug target for liver fibrosis treatment. Fyn inhibitor Saracatinib significantly inhibited HSC activation and attenuated liver fibrosis in mouse model.
Project description:The non-selectivity of tyrosine kinase inhibitors is the leading cause of drug withdrawals, and limits their application in anti-fibrosis. The role of Src tyrosine kinase Lyn in hepatic fibrosis remains elusive. In this study, we aimed to elucidate the role of Lyn kinase in the pathogenesis of hepatic fibrosis. Through examining Lyn-transgenic (Lyn TG) mice treated with CCl4 (carbon tetrachloride), we determined whether Lyn kinase is involved in the pathogenesis of hepatic fibrosis. On top of that, we also investigated the role of Lyn in the activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) in vitro. Here, we showed that Lyn kinase was highly expressed in liver fibrosis upon CCl4 treatment. Meanwhile, Lyn TG mice showed that perivascular infiltration of mononuclear cells, and the markers of liver injury and hepatocytes apoptosis were significantly increased in liver tissue after CCl4 treatment. In comparison with wild-type (WT) mice after CCl4 treatment, we found that the ?brotic score in liver tissues of Lyn TG mice with the same treatment went up dramatically, so did the gene expression of fibrotic markers. In addition, over-expression of Lyn kinase drastically promoted the expression of HSCs activation markers in vivo or in vitro. Additionally, the Src-specific inhibitor PP2 significantly suppressed the increased expression of integrin ?v?3 in TGF-?1-induced HSCs, and PP2 further induced HSC apoptosis in TGF-?1-treated cells. These results collectively indicated that Lyn kinase is implicated in the pathogenesis of hepatic fibrosis through the modulating of HSC activation.
Project description:Background:There are no approved drug treatments for liver fibrosis and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), an advanced stage of fibrosis which has rapidly become a major cause of cirrhosis. Therefore, development of anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic therapies is desired. Mesenchymal stem cell- (MSC-) based therapy, which has been extensively investigated in regenerative medicine for various organs, can reportedly achieve therapeutic effect in NASH via paracrine action. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) encompass a variety of vesicles released by cells that fulfill functions similar to those of MSCs. We herein investigated the therapeutic effects of EVs from amnion-derived MSCs (AMSCs) in rats with NASH and liver fibrosis. Methods:NASH was induced by a 4-week high-fat diet (HFD), and liver fibrosis was induced by intraperitoneal injection of 2?mL/kg 50% carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) twice a week for six weeks. AMSC-EVs were intravenously injected at weeks 3 and 4 in rats with NASH (15??g/kg) and at week 3 in rats with liver fibrosis (20??g/kg). The extent of inflammation and fibrosis was evaluated with quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry. The effect of AMSC-EVs on inflammatory and fibrogenic response was investigated in vitro. Results:AMSC-EVs significantly decreased the number of Kupffer cells (KCs) in the liver of rats with NASH and the mRNA expression levels of inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor- (Tnf-) ?, interleukin- (Il-) 1? and Il-6, and transforming growth factor- (Tgf-) ?. Furthermore, AMSC-EVs significantly decreased fiber accumulation, KC number, and hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activation in rats with liver fibrosis. In vitro, AMSC-EVs significantly inhibited KC and HSC activation and suppressed the lipopolysaccharide (LPS)/toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signaling pathway. Conclusions:AMSC-EVs ameliorated inflammation and fibrogenesis in a rat model of NASH and liver fibrosis, potentially by attenuating HSC and KC activation. AMSC-EV administration should be considered as a new therapeutic strategy for chronic liver disease.
Project description:Liver fibrosis is characterized by the activation and migration of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), followed by matrix deposition. Recently, several studies have shown the importance of extracellular vesicles (EVs) derived from liver cells, such as hepatocytes and endothelial cells, in liver pathobiology. While most of the studies describe how liver cells modulate HSC behavior, an important gap exists in the understanding of HSC-derived signals and more specifically HSC-derived EVs in liver fibrosis. Here, we investigated the molecules released through HSC-derived EVs, the mechanism of their release, and the role of these EVs in fibrosis. Mass spectrometric analysis showed that platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) receptor-alpha (PDGFR?) was enriched in EVs derived from PDGF-BB-treated HSCs. Moreover, patients with liver fibrosis had increased PDGFR? levels in serum EVs compared to healthy individuals. Mechanistically, in vitro tyrosine720-to-phenylalanine mutation on the PDGFR? sequence abolished enrichment of PDGFR? in EVs and redirected the receptor toward degradation. Congruently, the inhibition of Src homology 2 domain tyrosine phosphatase 2, the regulatory binding partner of phosphorylated tyrosine720, also inhibited PDGFR? enrichment in EVs. EVs derived from PDGFR?-overexpressing cells promoted in vitro HSC migration and in vivo liver fibrosis. Finally, administration of Src homology 2 domain tyrosine phosphatase 2inhibitor, SHP099, to carbon tetrachloride-administered mice inhibited PDGFR? enrichment in serum EVs and reduced liver fibrosis. CONCLUSION:PDGFR? is enriched in EVs derived from PDGF-BB-treated HSCs in an Src homology 2 domain tyrosine phosphatase 2-dependent manner and these PDGFR?-enriched EVs participate in development of liver fibrosis. (Hepatology 2018;68:333-348).
Project description:Liver fibrosis, an important health concern associated to chronic liver injury that provides a permissive environment for cancer development, is characterized by accumulation of extracellular matrix components mainly derived from activated hepatic stellate cells (HSCs). Axl, a receptor tyrosine kinase and its ligand Gas6, are involved in cell differentiation, immune response and carcinogenesis.HSCs were obtained from WT and Axl(-/-) mice, treated with recombinant Gas6 protein (rGas6), Axl siRNAs or the Axl inhibitor BGB324, and analyzed by western blot and real-time PCR. Experimental fibrosis was studied in CCl4-treated WT and Axl(-/-) mice, and in combination with Axl inhibitor. Gas6 and Axl serum levels were measured in alcoholic liver disease (ALD) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) patients.In primary mouse HSCs, Gas6 and Axl levels paralleled HSC activation. rGas6 phosphorylated Axl and AKT prior to HSC phenotypic changes, while Axl siRNA silencing reduced HSC activation. Moreover, BGB324 blocked Axl/AKT phosphorylation and diminished HSC activation. In addition, Axl(-/-) mice displayed decreased HSC activation in vitro and liver fibrogenesis after chronic damage by CCl4 administration. Similarly, BGB324 reduced collagen deposition and CCl4-induced liver fibrosis in mice. Importantly, Gas6 and Axl serum levels increased in ALD and HCV patients, inversely correlating with liver functionality.The Gas6/Axl axis is required for full HSC activation. Gas6 and Axl serum levels increase in parallel to chronic liver disease progression. Axl targeting may be a therapeutic strategy for liver fibrosis management.
Project description:BACKGROUND & AIMS:Ubiquitination is a reversible protein modification involved in the major cellular processes that define cell phenotype and behaviour. Ubiquitin modifications are removed by a large family of proteases named deubiquitinases. The role of deubiquitinases in hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activation and their contribution to fibrogenesis are poorly defined. We have identified that the deubiquitinase ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase 1 (UCHL1) is highly induced following HSC activation, determined its function in activated HSC and its potential as a therapeutic target for fibrosis. METHODS:Deubiquitinase expression was determined in day 0 and day 10 HSC. Increased UCHL1 expression was confirmed in human HSC and in an alcoholic liver disease (ALD) patient liver. The importance of UCHL1 in hepatic fibrosis was investigated in CCl4 and bile duct ligation injured mice using a pharmacological inhibitor (LDN 57444). The effects of UCHL1 inhibition on HSC proliferation were confirmed by Western blot and 3H thymidine incorporation. RESULTS:Here we report that pharmacological inhibition of UCHL1 blocks progression of established fibrosis in CCl4 injured mice. UCHL1 siRNA knockdown, LDN 57444 treatment, or HSC isolated from UCHL1(-/-) mice show attenuated proliferation in response to the mitogen, platelet-derived growth factor. Additionally, we observed changes in the phosphorylation of the cell cycle regulator retinoblastoma protein (Rb) in the absence of UCHL1 highlighting a potential mechanism for the reduced proliferative response. CONCLUSIONS:UCHL1 expression is highly upregulated upon HSC activation and is involved in the regulation of HSC proliferation. This study highlights therapeutic opportunities for pharmacological targeting of UCHL1 in chronic liver disease.