Functional interaction between macrophages and hepatocytes dictate the outcome of liver fibrosis.
ABSTRACT: Hepatocytes and liver-resident macrophages known as Kupffer cells (KCs) are key cell types involved in liver fibrosis. The transcription factor c-Jun plays a fundamental role in regulating hepatocyte and macrophage functions. We have examined c-Jun's role in the functional interaction of these cells during liver fibrosis induced by carbon tetrachloride. While hepatocyte-specific c-jun deletion led to increased fibrosis, the opposite outcome was observed when c-jun was deleted in both hepatocytes and KCs. Molecular analyses revealed compromised cytokine gene expression as the apical event related to the phenotype. Yet, purified hepatocytes from both mouse cohorts showed similar defects in cytokine gene expression. However, we noted increased macrophage infiltration in the absence of c-Jun in hepatocytes, which when chemically depleted, reversed the phenotype. Consistently, c-jun deletion in KCs alone also led to reduced fibrosis and cytokine gene expression. By contrast, c-jun deletion in hepatocytes and KCs did not affect the resolution phase after fibrotic injury. These data together demonstrate a pro-fibrogenic role for c-Jun in hepatocytes and KCs that functionally interact to regulate liver fibrosis.
Project description:Transforming growth factor (TGF)-?-activated kinase 1 (TAK1) is activated in different cytokine signaling pathways. Deletion of Tak1 from hepatocytes results in spontaneous development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), liver inflammation, and fibrosis. TGF-? activates TAK1 and Smad signaling, which regulate cell death, proliferation, and carcinogenesis. However, it is not clear whether TGF-? signaling in hepatocytes, via TGF-? receptor-2 (Tgfbr2), promotes HCC and liver fibrosis.We generated mice with hepatocyte-specific deletion of Tak1 (Tak1?Hep), as well as Tak1/Tgfbr2DHep and Tak1/Smad4?Hep mice. Tak1flox/flox, Tgfbr2?Hep, and Smad4?Hep mice were used as controls, respectively. We assessed development of liver injury, inflammation, fibrosis, and HCC. Primary hepatocytes isolated from these mice were used to assess TGF-?-mediated signaling.Levels of TGF-?, TGF-?R2, and phospho-Smad2/3 were increased in HCCs from Tak1?Hep mice, which developed liver fibrosis and inflammation by 1 month and HCC by 9 months. However, Tak1/Tgfbr2?Hep mice did not have this phenotype, and their hepatocytes did not undergo spontaneous cell death or compensatory proliferation. Hepatocytes from Tak1?Hep mice incubated with TGF-? did not activate p38, c-Jun N-terminal kinase, or nuclear factor-?B; conversely, TGF-?-mediated cell death and phosphorylation of Smad2/3 were increased, compared with control hepatocytes. Blocking the Smad pathway inhibited TGF-?-mediated death of Tak1-/- hepatocytes. Accordingly, disruption of Smad4 reduced the spontaneous liver injury, inflammation, fibrosis, and HCC that develops in Tak1?Hep mice. Levels of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-xL, ?-catenin, connective tissue growth factor, and vascular endothelial growth factor were increased in HCC from Tak1?Hep mice, but not in HCCs from Tak1/Tgfbr2?Hep mice. Injection of N-nitrosodiethylamine induced HCC formation in wild-type mice, but less in Tgfbr2?Hep mice.TGF-? promotes development of HCC in Tak1?Hep mice by inducing hepatocyte apoptosis and compensatory proliferation during early phases of tumorigenesis, and inducing expression of anti-apoptotic, pro-oncogenic, and angiogenic factors during tumor progression.
Project description:High-mobility group box-1 (HMGB1) is a damage-associated molecular pattern (DAMP) increased in response to liver injury. Because HMGB1 is a ligand for the receptor for advanced glycation endproducts (RAGE), we hypothesized that induction of HMGB1 could participate in the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis though RAGE cell-specific signaling mechanisms. Liver HMGB1 protein expression correlated with fibrosis stage in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), or alcoholic steatohepatitis (ASH). Hepatic HMGB1 protein expression and secretion increased in five mouse models of liver fibrosis attributed to drug-induced liver injury (DILI), cholestasis, ASH, or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). HMGB1 was up-regulated and secreted mostly by hepatocytes and Kupffer cells (KCs) following CCl4 treatment. Neutralization of HMGB1 protected, whereas injection of recombinant HMGB1 promoted liver fibrosis. Hmgb1 ablation in hepatocytes (Hmgb1?Hep ) or in myeloid cells (Hmgb1?Mye ) partially protected, whereas ablation in both (Hmgb1?Hep?Mye ) prevented liver fibrosis in vivo. Coculture with hepatocytes or KCs from CCl4 -injected wild-type (WT) mice up-regulated Collagen type I production by hepatic stellate cells (HSCs); yet, coculture with hepatocytes from CCl4 -injected Hmgb1?Hep or with KCs from CCl4 -injected Hmgb1?Mye mice partially blunted this effect. Rage ablation in HSCs (Rage?HSC ) and RAGE neutralization prevented liver fibrosis. Last, we identified that HMGB1 stimulated HSC migration and signaled through RAGE to up-regulate Collagen type I expression by activating the phosphorylated mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (pMEK)1/2, phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (pERK)1/2 and pcJun signaling pathway. Conclusion: Hepatocyte and KC-derived HMGB1 participates in the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis by signaling through RAGE in HSCs to activate the pMEK1/2, pERK1/2 and pcJun pathway and increase Collagen type I deposition.
Project description:Progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) from steatosis to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a key step of NASH pathogenesis. The AP-1 transcription factor c-Jun is an important regulator of hepatic stress responses, but its contribution to NASH pathogenesis remains poorly defined. We therefore addressed c-Jun expression in liver biopsies of patients with steatosis and NASH. The role of c-Jun during NASH pathogenesis was analyzed mechanistically in c-Jun mutant mice fed with a methionine- and choline-deficient diet (MCDD). Disease progression from steatosis to NASH in patients correlated with increased c-Jun expression in hepatocytes, while its expression in non-parenchymal liver cells (NPLCs) particularly correlated with fibrosis. Analysis of untreated and MCDD-fed mice lacking c-Jun in hepatocytes (c-Jun?li) revealed that c-Jun promotes hepatocyte survival, thereby protecting against the regenerative ductular reaction (DR) of Sox9/Osteopontin (Opn) co-expressing NPLCs, expression of the Opn receptor CD44 and fibrosis, which were all exacerbated in c-Jun?li mice. Since Opn and c-Jun were co-expressed by NPLCs in mice and patients with NASH, we wondered whether the increased fibrosis observed in c-Jun?li mice could be rescued by additional c-Jun deletion in NPLCs (c-Jun?li*). c-Jun?li* mice with NASH indeed exhibited reduced expression of Opn and CD44 in NPLCs, impaired DR and reduced fibrosis. A similar phenotype was observed in Opn knockout mice, suggesting that the observed functions of c-Jun were indeed Opn-dependent. In conclusion, c-Jun expression correlates with disease progression from steatosis to NASH in patients and exerts cell-type-specific functions in mice: In hepatocytes, it promotes cell survival thereby limiting the DR and fibrogenesis. In NPLCs, it rather promotes the DR and fibrogenesis by regulating expression of Opn and CD44.
Project description:Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a burgeoning health problem worldwide, ranging from nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL, steatosis without hepatocellular injury) to the more aggressive nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH, steatosis with ballooning, inflammation, or fibrosis). Although many studies have greatly contributed to the elucidation of NAFLD pathogenesis, the disease progression from NAFL to NASH remains incompletely understood. Nuclear receptor small heterodimer partner (Nr0b2, SHP) is a transcriptional regulator critical for the regulation of bile acid, glucose, and lipid metabolism. Here, we show that SHP levels are decreased in the livers of patients with NASH and in diet-induced mouse NASH. Exposing primary mouse hepatocytes to palmitic acid and lipopolysaccharide in vitro, we demonstrated that the suppression of Shp expression in hepatocytes is due to c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activation, which stimulates c-Jun-mediated transcriptional repression of Shp Interestingly, in vivo induction of hepatocyte-specific SHP in steatotic mouse liver ameliorated NASH progression by attenuating liver inflammation and fibrosis, but not steatosis. Moreover, a key mechanism linking the anti-inflammatory role of hepatocyte-specific SHP expression to inflammation involved SHP-induced suppression of NF-?B p65-mediated induction of chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2), which activates macrophage proinflammatory polarization and migration. In summary, our results indicate that a JNK/SHP/NF-?B/CCL2 regulatory network controls communications between hepatocytes and macrophages and contributes to the disease progression from NAFL to NASH. Our findings may benefit the development of new management or prevention strategies for NASH.
Project description:HGF/c-Met signaling plays a pivotal role in hepatocyte survival and tissue remodeling during liver regeneration. HGF treatment accelerates resolution of fibrosis in experimental animal models. Here, we utilized Met(fl/fl);Alb-Cre(+/-) conditional knockout mice and a carbon tetrachloride(CCl(4))-induced liver fibrosis model to formally address the role of c-Met signaling in hepatocytes in the context of chronic tissue injury. Histological changes during injury (4weeks) and healing phase (4weeks) were monitored by immunohistochemistry; expression levels of selected key fibrotic molecules were evaluated by western blotting, and time-dependent global transcriptomic changes were examined using a microarray platform. Loss of hepatocyte c-Met signaling altered hepatic microenvironment and aggravated hepatic fibrogenesis. Greater liver damage was associated with decreased hepatocyte proliferation, excessive stellate cell activation and rapid dystrophic calcification of necrotic areas. Global transcriptome analysis revealed a broad impact of c-Met on critical signaling pathways associated with fibrosis. Loss of hepatocyte c-Met caused a strong deregulation of chemotactic and inflammatory signaling (MCP-1, RANTES, Cxcl10) in addition to modulation of genes involved in reorganization of the cytoskeletal network (Actb, Tuba1a, Tuba8), intercellular communications and adhesion (Adam8, Icam1, Itgb2), control of cell proliferation (Ccng2, Csnk2a, Cdc6, cdk10), DNA damage and stress response (Rad9, Rad52, Ercc4, Gsta1 and 2, Jun). Our study demonstrates that deletion of c-Met receptor in hepatocytes results in pronounced changes in hepatic metabolism and microenvironment, and establishes an essential role for c-Met in maintaining the structural integrity and adaptive plasticity of the liver under adverse conditions.
Project description:The tumor suppressor p53 has been implicated in the pathogenesis of non-cancer-related conditions such as insulin resistance, cardiac failure, and early aging. In addition, accumulation of p53 has been observed in the hepatocytes of individuals with fibrotic liver diseases, but the significance of this is not known. Herein, we have mechanistically linked p53 activation in hepatocytes to liver fibrosis. Hepatocyte-specific deletion in mice of the gene encoding Mdm2, a protein that promotes p53 degradation, led to hepatocyte synthesis of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF; the hepatic fibrogenic master switch), increased hepatocyte apoptosis, and spontaneous liver fibrosis; concurrent removal of p53 completely abolished this phenotype. Compared with wild-type controls, mice with hepatocyte-specific p53 deletion exhibited similar levels of hepatocyte apoptosis but decreased liver fibrosis and hepatic CTGF expression in two models of liver fibrosis. The clinical significance of these data was highlighted by two observations. First, p53 upregulated CTGF in a human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line by repressing miR-17-92. Second, human liver samples showed a correlation between CTGF and p53-regulated gene expression, which were both increased in fibrotic livers. This study reveals that p53 induces CTGF expression and promotes liver fibrosis, suggesting that the p53/CTGF pathway may be a therapeutic target in the treatment of liver fibrosis.
Project description:Transfer of exogenous macrophages represents an alternative technique to treat liver fibrosis. At present, bone marrow-derived monocytes and stem cells are the main sources for exogenous macrophages. Kupffer cells (KCs) are the resident macrophages in the liver and play a critical role in the liver homeostasis and diseases. It is unclear whether infusion of KCs can treat liver fibrosis. In this study, we observed that granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) could improve the purity of cultured KCs and significantly up-regulate the expression of Cluster of Differentiation 11b (CD11b). The most important point is that GM-CSF could significantly promote the proliferation of KCs <i>in vitro</i>. KCs expanded <i>in vitro</i> still had the potential of M1/M2 polarization and phagocytosis. Furthermore, infusion of these KCs could ameliorate liver fibrosis induced by carbon tetrachloride (CCl<sub>4</sub>) in mice. Together, our results suggest that KCs are likely to be another source for macrophage therapy.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The Wnt/?-Catenin signaling pathway is central for liver functions and frequently deregulated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Analysis of the early phenotypes and molecular events following ?-Catenin activation is therefore essential for better understanding HCC pathogenesis. The AP-1 transcription factor c-Jun is a putative ?-Catenin target gene and promotes hepatocyte survival, proliferation, and liver tumorigenesis, suggesting that c-Jun may be a key target of ?-Catenin signaling in the liver.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>To address this issue, the immediate hepatic phenotypes following deletion of the tumor suppressor Apc and subsequent ?-Catenin activation were analyzed in mice. The contribution of c-Jun to these phenotypes was dissected in double mutant animals lacking both, Apc and c-Jun. ?-Catenin was rapidly activated in virtually all Apc mutant hepatocytes while c-Jun was induced only after several days, suggesting that its expression was rather a secondary event following Apc deletion in the liver. Loss of Apc resulted in increased hepatocyte proliferation, hepatomegaly, deregulated protein metabolism, and premature death. Interestingly, additional deletion of c-Jun did not affect hepatocyte proliferation but resulted in increased liver damage and mortality. This phenotype correlated with impaired expression of hepatoprotective genes such as Birc5, Egfr Igf1 and subsequently deregulated Akt signaling.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>These data indicate that c-Jun is not a primary target of ?-Catenin signaling in the liver, but rather protects against liver damage, which in turn may promote liver tumorigenesis.
Project description:Liver injuries induced by various stimuli share in common an acute inflammatory response, in which circulating macrophages home to the liver parenchyma to participate in the regulation of repair, regeneration, and fibrosis. In the present study we investigated the role of hepatocyte-derived C-C motif ligand 7 (CCL7) in macrophage migration during liver injury focusing on its transcriptional regulation. We report that CCL7 expression was up-regulated in the liver by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) injection (acute liver injury) or methionine-and-choline-deficient (MCD) diet feeding (chronic liver injury) paralleling increased macrophage infiltration. CCL7 expression was also inducible in hepatocytes, but not in hepatic stellate cells or in Kupffer cells, by LPS treatment or exposure to palmitate in vitro. Hepatocyte-specific deletion of Brahma-related gene 1 (BRG1), a chromatin remodeling protein, resulted in a concomitant loss of CCL7 induction and macrophage infiltration in the murine livers. Of interest, BRG1-induced CCL7 transcription and macrophage migration was completely blocked by the antioxidant N-acetylcystine. Further analyses revealed that BRG1 interacted with activator protein 1 (AP-1) to regulate CCL7 transcription in hepatocytes in a redox-sensitive manner mediated in part by casein kinase 2 (CK2)-catalyzed phosphorylation of BRG1. Importantly, a positive correlation between BRG1/CCL7 expression and macrophage infiltration was identified in human liver biopsy specimens. In conclusion, our data unveil a novel role for BRG1 as a redox-sensitive activator of CCL7 transcription.
Project description:UNLABELLED:Previous studies demonstrated that targeted deletion of the Ron receptor tyrosine kinase (TK) domain in mice leads to marked hepatocyte protection in a well-characterized model of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced acute liver failure in D-galactosamine (GalN)-sensitized mice. Hepatocyte protection in TK-/- mice was observed despite paradoxically elevated serum levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-?). To understand the role of Ron in the liver, purified populations of Kupffer cells and hepatocytes from wildtype (TK+/+) and TK-/- mice were studied. Utilizing quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), we demonstrated that Ron is expressed in these cell types. Moreover, we also recapitulated the protected hepatocyte phenotype and exaggerated cytokine production observed in the TK-/- mice in vivo through the use of purified cultured cells ex vivo. We show that isolated TK-/- Kupffer cells produce increased levels of TNF-? and select cytokines compared to TK+/+ cells following LPS stimulation. We also show that conditioned media from LPS-treated TK-/- Kupffer cells was more toxic to hepatocytes than control media, suggesting the exaggerated levels of cytokines produced from the TK-/- Kupffer cells are detrimental to wildtype hepatocytes. In addition, we observed that TK-/- hepatocytes were more resistant to cell death compared to TK+/+ hepatocytes, suggesting that Ron functions in both the epithelial and inflammatory cell compartments to regulate acute liver injury. These findings were confirmed in vivo in mice with hepatocyte and macrophage cell-type-specific conditional Ron deletions. Mice with Ron loss selectively in hepatocytes exhibited less liver damage and increased survival compared to mice with Ron loss in macrophages. CONCLUSION:We dissected cell-type-specific roles for Ron such that this receptor modulates cytokine production from Kupffer cells and inhibits hepatocyte survival in response to injury.