The role of PI3K and Hippo signaling in chronic pancreatitis (CP) pathogenesis is unclear. Therefore, we assessed the involvement of these pathways in CP by examining the PI3K and Hippo signaling components PTEN and SAV1, respectively. We observed significant decreases in pancreatic PTEN and SAV1 levels in 2 murine CP models: repeated caerulein injection and pancreatic ductal ligation. Additionally, pancreas-specific deletion of Pten and Sav1 (DKO) induced CP in mice. Pancreatic connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) was markedly upregulated in both CP models and DKO mice, and pancreatic CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein alpha (CEBPA) expression was downregulated in the CP models. Interestingly, in pancreatic acinar cells (PACs), CEBPA knockdown reduced PTEN and SAV1 and increased CTGF levels in vitro. Furthermore, CEBPA knockdown in PACs induced acinar-to-ductal metaplasia and activation of cocultured macrophages and pancreatic stellate cells. These results were mitigated by CTGF inhibition. CP in DKO mice was also ameliorated by Ctgf gene deletion, and caerulein-induced CP was alleviated by antibody-mediated CTGF neutralization. Finally, we observed significantly decreased PTEN, SAV1, and CEBPA and increased CTGF levels in human CP tissues compared to nonpancreatitis tissues. Taken together, our results indicate that dysregulation of PI3K and Hippo signaling induces CP via CTGF upregulation.
Takeshi Tamura, Takahiro Kodama, Katsuhiko Sato, Kazuhiro Murai, Teppei Yoshioka, Minoru Shigekawa, Ryoko Yamada, Hayato Hikita, Ryotaro Sakamori, Hirofumi Akita, Hidetoshi Eguchi, Randy L. Johnson, Hideki Yokoi, Masashi Mukoyama, Tomohide Tatsumi, Tetsuo Takehara