Published in Volume
101, Issue 12
(June 15, 1998)J Clin Invest.
1998, The American Society for
A novel role for ursodeoxycholic acid in inhibiting apoptosis by modulating mitochondrial membrane perturbation.
Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA.
Published June 15, 1998
The hydrophilic bile salt ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) protects against the membrane-damaging effects associated with hydrophobic bile acids. This study was undertaken to (a) determine if UDCA inhibits apoptosis from deoxycholic acid (DCA), as well as from ethanol, TGF-beta1, Fas ligand, and okadaic acid; and to (b) determine whether mitochondrial membrane perturbation is modulated by UDCA. DCA induced significant hepatocyte apoptosis in vivo and in isolated hepatocytes determined by terminal transferase-mediated dUTP-digoxigenin nick end-labeling assay and nuclear staining, respectively (P < 0.001). Apoptosis in isolated rat hepatocytes increased 12-fold after incubation with 0.5% ethanol (P < 0.001). HuH-7 cells exhibited increased apoptosis with 1 nM TGF-beta1 (P < 0. 001) or DCA at >/= 100 microM (P < 0.001), as did Hep G2 cells after incubation with anti-Fas antibody (P < 0.001). Finally, incubation with okadaic acid induced significant apoptosis in HuH-7, Saos-2, Cos-7, and HeLa cells. Coadministration of UDCA with each of the apoptosis-inducing agents was associated with a 50-100% inhibition of apoptotic changes (P < 0.001) in all the cell types. Also, UDCA reduced the mitochondrial membrane permeability transition (MPT) in isolated mitochondria associated with both DCA and phenylarsine oxide by > 40 and 50%, respectively (P < 0.001). FACS(R) analysis revealed that the apoptosis-inducing agents decreased the mitochondrial transmembrane potential and increased reactive oxygen species production (P < 0.05). Coadministration of UDCA was associated with significant prevention of mitochondrial membrane alterations in all cell types. The results suggest that UDCA plays a central role in modulating the apoptotic threshold in both hepatocytes and nonliver cells, and inhibition of MPT is at least one pathway by which UDCA protects against apoptosis.