Adipocyte Fatty Acid Binding Protein Promotes the Onset and Progression of Liver Fibrosis via Mediating the Crosstalk between Liver Sinusoidal Endothelial Cells and Hepatic Stellate Cells.
ABSTRACT: Development of liver fibrosis results in drastic changes in the liver microenvironment, which in turn accelerates disease progression. Although the pathological function of various hepatic cells in fibrogenesis is identified, the crosstalk between them remains obscure. The present study demonstrates that hepatic expression of adipocyte fatty acid binding protein (A-FABP) is induced especially in the liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) in mice after bile duct ligation (BDL). Genetic ablation and pharmacological inhibition of A-FABP attenuate BDL- or carbon tetrachloride-induced liver fibrosis in mice associating with reduced collagen accumulation, LSEC capillarization, and hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activation. Mechanistically, elevated A-FABP promotes LSEC capillarization by activating Hedgehog signaling, thus impairs the gatekeeper function of LSEC on HSC activation. LSEC-derived A-FABP also acts on HSCs in paracrine manner to potentiate the transactivation of transforming growth factor β1 (TGFβ1) by activating c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK)/c-Jun signaling. Elevated TGFβ1 subsequently exaggerates liver fibrosis. These findings uncover a novel pathological mechanism of liver fibrosis in which LSEC-derived A-FABP is a key regulator modulating the onset and progression of the disease. Targeting A-FABP may represent a potential approach against liver fibrosis.
Project description:Normal liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) promote quiescence of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs). Prior to fibrosis, LSECs undergo capillarization, which is permissive for HSC activation, the proximate event in hepatic fibrosis. The aims of this study were to elucidate the nature of and mechanisms leading to capillarization and to determine how LSECs promote HSC quiescence and why "capillarized LSECs" lose control of HSC activation. The contribution of bone marrow (BM) endothelial progenitor cells to capillarization was identified using rats transplanted with transgenic enhanced green fluorescent protein-positive BM. Shotgun proteomics and informatics were used to identify the LSEC mediator that maintains HSC quiescence. The study shows that capillarization is due to repair of injured LSECs by BM endothelial progenitors that engraft but fail to fully mature. Lack of maturation of BM-derived LSECs is due to cell autonomous pathways that inhibit the nitric oxide pathway. We identify heparin binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor (HB-EGF) as the signal that maintains HSC quiescence and show that immature LSECs are unable to shed HB-EGF from the cytosolic membrane. Conclusion: Chronic liver injury can recruit BM progenitors of LSECs that engraft and fail to fully differentiate, which creates an environment that is permissive for hepatic fibrosis; elucidation of these early events in the fibrotic process will provide targets for treatment of hepatic fibrosis.
Project description:Capillarization, characterized by loss of differentiation of liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs), precedes the onset of hepatic fibrosis. We investigated whether restoration of LSEC differentiation would normalize crosstalk with activated hepatic stellate cells (HSC) and thereby promote quiescence of HSC and regression of fibrosis.Rat LSECs were cultured with inhibitors and/or agonists and examined by scanning electron microscopy for fenestrae in sieve plates. Cirrhosis was induced in rats using thioacetamide, followed by administration of BAY 60-2770, an activator of soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC). Fibrosis was assessed by Sirius red staining; expression of ?-smooth muscle actin was measured by immunoblot analysis.Maintenance of LSEC differentiation requires vascular endothelial growth factor-A stimulation of nitric oxide-dependent signaling (via sGC and cyclic guanosine monophosphate) and nitric oxide-independent signaling. In rats with thioacetamide-induced cirrhosis, BAY 60-2770 accelerated the complete reversal of capillarization (restored differentiation of LSECs) without directly affecting activation of HSCs or fibrosis. Restoration of differentiation to LSECs led to quiescence of HSCs and regression of fibrosis in the absence of further exposure to BAY 60-2770. Activation of sGC with BAY 60-2770 prevented progression of cirrhosis, despite continued administration of thioacetamide.The state of LSEC differentiation plays a pivotal role in HSC activation and the fibrotic process.
Project description:Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a common chronic liver disorder in developed countries, with the associated clinical complications driven by portal hypertension (PH). PH may precede fibrosis development, probably due to endothelial dysfunction at early stages of the disease. Our aim was to characterize liver sinusoidal endothelial cell (LSEC) dedifferentiation/capillarization and its contribution to PH in NASH, together with assessing statins capability to revert endothelial function improving early NASH stages. Sprague-Dawley rats were fed with high fat glucose-fructose diet (HFGFD), or control diet (CD) for 8 weeks and then treated with simvastatin (sim) (10?mg·kg<sup>-1</sup>·day<sup>-1</sup>), atorvastatin (ato) (10?mg·kg<sup>-1</sup>·day<sup>-1</sup>) or vehicle during 2 weeks. Biochemical, histological and hemodynamic determinations were carried out. Sinusoidal endothelial dysfunction was assessed in individualized sorted LSEC and hepatic stellate cells (HSC) from animal groups and in whole liver samples. HFGFD rats showed full NASH features without fibrosis but with significantly increased portal pressure compared with CD rats (10.47?±?0.37?mmHg vs 8.30?±?0.22?mmHg; p?<?0.001). Moreover, HFGFD rats showed a higher percentage of capillarized (CD32b<sup>-</sup>/CD11b<sup>-</sup>) LSEC (8% vs 1%, p?=?0.005) showing a contractile phenotype associated to HSC activation. Statin treatments caused a significant portal pressure reduction (sim: 9.29?±?0.25?mmHg, p?<?0.01; ato: 8.85?±?0.30?mmHg, p?<?0.001), NASH histology reversion, along with significant recovery of LSEC differentiation and a regression of HSC activation to a more quiescent phenotype. In an early NASH model without fibrosis with PH, LSEC transition to capillarization and HSC activation are reverted by statin treatment inducing portal pressure decrease and NASH features improvement.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Circulating cirrhotic endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) interact with both liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC) and hepatic stellate cells (HSC) and promote angiogenesis <i>in vitro</i>. This study evaluated the effect of cirrhotic and control EPCs on hepatic angiogenesis, microcirculation, and fibrosis <i>in vivo</i> in rat models of cirrhosis.<h4>Methodology</h4>Animal models of cirrhosis were prepared by bile duct ligation (BDL). Circulating EPCs isolated from healthy human and cirrhotic blood were characterized by flow cytometry, cultured and administered through the tail vein in BDL rats after 2 weeks of ligation. The cells were given thrice a week for 2 weeks. The untreated group of BDL rats received only saline. Fibrosis was evaluated by Masson's trichrome staining. Dedifferentiated LSECs were identified by the expression of CD31, and activated HSCs were marked as alpha-SMA-positive cells and were studied by immunohistochemistry and western blotting in saline-, healthy EPC-, and cirrhotic EPC-treated rats. <i>In vivo</i>, hepatic and systemic hemodynamic parameters were evaluated. Liver functions were evaluated.<h4>Results</h4>In comparison to controls, BDL rats revealed an increase of fibrosis and angiogenesis. Among the treated rats, cirrhotic EPC-treated rats had increased fibrosis grade as compared to healthy EPC-treated and saline-treated rats. There was an increase of both fibrosis and angiogenesis markers, alpha-SMA and CD31 in cirrhotic EPC-treated rats as compared to healthy EPC-treated and saline-treated rats in immunohistochemistry and western blot studies. Cirrhotic EPC-treated BDL rats had high portal pressure and portal blood flow with significantly elevated hepatic vascular resistance in comparison with healthy EPC- and saline-treated BDL animals, without significant differences in mean arterial pressure. Cirrhotic EPC-treated BDL rats also showed a substantial increase in the hepatic expression of angiogenic receptors, VEGFR2 and CXCR4 in comparison with saline-treated rats.<h4>Conclusion</h4>The study suggests that transplantation of cirrhotic EPCs enhances LSEC differentiation and angiogenesis, activates HSCs and worsens fibrosis, thus resulting in hepatic hemodynamic derangements in BDL-induced cirrhosis.
Project description:c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) is activated by multiple profibrogenic mediators; JNK activation occurs during toxic, metabolic, and autoimmune liver injury. However, its role in hepatic fibrogenesis is unknown.JNK phosphorylation was detected by immunoblot analysis and confocal immunofluorescent microscopy in fibrotic livers from mice after bile duct ligation (BDL) or CCl(4) administration and in liver samples from patients with chronic hepatitis C and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. Fibrogenesis was investigated in mice given the JNK inhibitor SP600125 and in JNK1- and JNK2-deficient mice following BDL or CCl(4) administration. Hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activation was determined in primary mouse HSCs incubated with pan-JNK inhibitors SP600125 and VIII.JNK phosphorylation was strongly increased in livers of mice following BDL or CCl(4) administration as well as in human fibrotic livers, occurring predominantly in myofibroblasts. In vitro, pan-JNK inhibitors prevented transforming growth factor (TGF) beta-, platelet-derived growth factor-, and angiotensin II-induced murine HSC activation and decreased platelet-derived growth factor and TGF-beta signaling in human HSCs. In vivo, pan-JNK inhibition did not affect liver injury but significantly reduced fibrosis after BDL or CCl(4). JNK1-deficient mice had decreased fibrosis after BDL or CCl(4), whereas JNK2-deficient mice displayed increased fibrosis after BDL but fibrosis was not changed after CCl(4). Moreover, patients with chronic hepatitis C who displayed decreased fibrosis in response to the angiotensin receptor type 1 blocker losartan showed decreased JNK phosphorylation.JNK is involved in HSC activation and fibrogenesis and represents a potential target for antifibrotic treatment approaches.
Project description:The aim of the present work was to address the role of BMP9 in different genetic backgrounds (C57BL/6, BALB/c, and 129/Ola) of mice deleted for <i>Bmp9</i>. We found that <i>Bmp9</i> deletion led to premature mortality only in the 129/Ola strain. We have previously shown that <i>Bmp9</i> deletion led to liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC) capillarization and liver fibrosis in the 129/Ola background. Here, we showed that this is not the case in the C57BL/6 background. Analysis of LSEC from Wild-type (WT) versus <i>Bmp9</i>-KO mice in the C57BL/6 background showed no difference in LSEC fenestration and in the expression of differentiation markers. Comparison of the mRNA expression of LSEC differentiation markers between WT C57BL/6 and 129/Ola mice showed a significant decrease in Stabilin2, Plvap, and CD209b, suggesting a more capillary-like phenotype in WT C57BL/6 LSECs. C57BL/6 mice also had lower BMP9 circulating concentrations and hepatic Vegfr2 mRNA levels, compared to the 129/Ola mice. Taken together, our observations support a role for BMP9 in liver endothelial cell fenestration and prevention of fibrosis that is dependent on genetic background. It also suggests that 129/Ola mice are a more suitable model than C57BL/6 for the study of liver fibrosis subsequent to LSEC capillarization.
Project description:Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a severe, advanced form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) that is associated with features of metabolic syndrome and characterized by hepatic steatosis, inflammation, and fibrosis. In addition, NASH is associated with endothelial dysfunction within the hepatic vasculature. Treatment with CU06-1004 (previously called Sac-1004) ameliorates endothelial dysfunction by inhibiting hyperpermeability and inflammation. In this study, we investigated the protective effects of CU06-1004 in a choline-deficient L-amino acid (CDAA)-induced mouse model of NASH for 3 or 6 weeks. Specifically, we evaluated the effects of CU06-1004 on lipid accumulation, inflammation, hepatic fibrosis, and liver sinusoidal endothelial cell (LSEC) capillarization through biochemical analysis, immunohistochemistry, and real-time PCR. We found that the administration of CU06-1004 to mice improved liver triglyceride (TG) and serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) in this CDAA-induced model of NASH for 6 weeks. In groups of NASH induced mice for both 3 and 6 weeks, CU06-1004 significantly reduced the hepatic expression of genes related to lipogenesis, inflammation, and cell adhesion. However, expression of genes related to hepatic fibrosis and vascular endothelial changes were only decreased in animals with mild NASH. These results suggest that the administration of CU06-1004 suppresses hepatic steatosis, inflammation, fibrosis, and LSEC capillarization in a CDAA-induced mouse model of NASH. This suggests that CU06-1004 has therapeutic potential for the treatment of mild NASH.
Project description:Liver sinusoidal endothelial cells have a gatekeeper function in liver homeostasis by permitting substrates from the bloodstream into the space of Disse and regulating hepatic stellate cell activation status. Maintenance of LSEC's highly specialized phenotype is crucial for liver homeostasis. During liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, LSEC phenotype and functions are lost by processes known as capillarization and LSEC dysfunction. LSEC capillarization can be demonstrated by the loss of fenestrae (cytoplasmic pores) and the manifestation of a basement membrane. Currently, no protein or genetic markers can clearly distinguish healthy from damaged LSECs in acute or chronic liver disease. Single cell (sc)RNA sequencing efforts have identified several LSEC populations in mouse models for liver disease and in human cirrhotic livers. Still, there are no clearly defined genesets that can identify LSECs or dysfunctional LSEC populations in transcriptome data. Here, we developed genesets that are enriched in healthy and damaged LSECs which correlated very strongly with healthy and early stage- vs. advanced human liver diseases. A damaged LSEC signature comprised of Fabp4/5 and Vwf/a1 was established which could efficiently identify damaged endothelial cells in single cell RNAseq data sets. In LSECs from an acute CCl4 liver injury mouse model, Fabp4/5 and Vwf/a1 expression is induced within 1–3 days while in cirrhotic human livers these 4 genes are highly enriched in damaged LSECs. In conclusion, our newly developed gene signature of damaged LSECs can be applicable to a wide range of liver disease etiologies, implicating a common transcriptional alteration mechanism in LSEC damage.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) developed in fibrotic liver does not respond well to immunotherapy, mainly due to the stromal microenvironment and the fibrosis-related immunosuppressive factors. The characteristic of liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) in contributing to fibrosis and orchestrating immune response is responsible for the refractory to targeted therapy or immunotherapy of HCC. We aim to seek a new strategy for HCC treatment based on an old drug simvastatin which shows protecting effect on LSEC.<h4>Method</h4>The features of LSECs in mouse fibrotic HCC model and human HCC patients were identified by immunofluorescence and scanning electron microscopy. The effect of simvastatin on LSECs and hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) was examined by immunoblotting, quantitative RT-PCR and RNA-seq. LSEC-targeted delivery of simvastatin was designed using nanotechnology. The anti-HCC effect and toxicity of the nano-drug was evaluated in both intra-hepatic and hemi-splenic inoculated mouse fibrotic HCC model.<h4>Results</h4>LSEC capillarization is associated with fibrotic HCC progression and poor survival in both murine HCC model and HCC patients. We further found simvastatin restores the quiescence of activated hepatic stellate cells (aHSCs) via stimulation of KLF2-NO signaling in LSECs, and up-regulates the expression of CXCL16 in LSECs. In intrahepatic inoculated fibrotic HCC mouse model, LSEC-targeted nano-delivery of simvastatin not only alleviates LSEC capillarization to regress the stromal microenvironment, but also recruits natural killer T (NKT) cells through CXCL16 to suppress tumor progression. Together with anti-programmed death-1-ligand-1 (anti-PD-L1) antibody, targeted-delivery of simvastatin achieves an improved therapeutic effect in hemi-splenic inoculated advanced-stage HCC model.<h4>Conclusions</h4>These findings reveal an immune-based therapeutic mechanism of simvastatin for remodeling immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment, therefore providing a novel strategy in treating HCC.
Project description:Hepatic inflammation drives hepatic stellate cells (HSC), resulting in liver fibrosis. The Farnesoid-X receptor (FXR) antagonizes inflammation through NF-?B inhibition. We investigated preventive and therapeutic effects of FXR agonist obeticholic acid (OCA) on hepatic inflammation and fibrosis in toxic cirrhotic rats. Cirrhosis was induced by thioacetamide (TAA) intoxication. OCA was given during or after intoxication with vehicle-treated rats as controls. At sacrifice, fibrosis, hemodynamic and biochemical parameters were assessed. HSC activation, cell turn-over, hepatic NF-?B activation, pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic cytokines were determined. The effect of OCA was further evaluated in isolated HSC, Kupffer cells, hepatocytes and liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC). OCA decreased hepatic inflammation and fibrogenesis during TAA-administration and reversed fibrosis in established cirrhosis. Portal pressure decreased through reduced intrahepatic vascular resistance. This was paralleled by decreased expression of pro-fibrotic cytokines (transforming growth-factor ?, connective tissue growth factor, platelet-derived growth factor ?-receptor) as well as markers of hepatic cell turn-over, by blunting effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines (e.g. monocyte chemo-attractant protein-1). In vitro, OCA inhibited both LSEC and Kupffer cell activation; while HSC remained unaffected. This related to NF-?B inhibition via up-regulated I?B?. In conclusion, OCA inhibits hepatic inflammation in toxic cirrhotic rats resulting in decreased HSC activation and fibrosis.