Innate immune activation contributes to the transition from nonalcoholic fatty liver to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Stimulator of IFN genes (STING, also referred to Tmem173) is a universal receptor that recognizes released DNA and triggers innate immune activation. In this work, we investigated the role of STING in the progression of NASH in mice. Both methionine- and choline-deficient diet (MCD) and high-fat diet (HFD) were used to induce NASH in mice. Strikingly, STING deficiency attenuated steatosis, fibrosis, and inflammation in livers in both murine models of NASH. Additionally, STING deficiency increased fasting glucose levels in mice independently of insulin, but mitigated HFD-induced insulin resistance and weight gain and reduced levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL in serum; it also enhanced levels of HDL. The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from hepatocytes of HFD-fed mice induced TNF-α and IL-6 expression in cultured Kupffer cells (KCs), which was attenuated by STING deficiency or pretreatment with BAY11-7082 (an NF-κB inhibitor). Finally, chronic exposure to 5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid (DMXAA, a STING agonist) led to hepatic steatosis and inflammation in WT mice, but not in STING-deficient mice. We proposed that STING functions as an mtDNA sensor in the KCs of liver under lipid overload and induces NF-κB–dependent inflammation in NASH.
Yongsheng Yu, Yu Liu, Weishuai An, Jingwen Song, Yuefan Zhang, Xianxian Zhao
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) arises from mitochondrial dysfunction under sustained imbalance between energy intake and expenditure, but the underlying mechanisms controlling mitochondrial respiration have not been entirely understood. Heterotrimeric G proteins converge signals from activated GPCRs, and modulate cell signaling pathways to maintain metabolic homeostasis. Here, we investigated the regulatory role of Gα12 on hepatic lipid metabolism and whole-body energy expenditure in mice. Fasting increased Gα12 level in mouse liver. Gα12 ablation markedly augmented fasting-induced hepatic fat accumulation. cDNA microarray analysis from Gna12 KO liver revealed that Gα12 signaling pathway regulated sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) and PPARα responsible for mitochondrial respiration. Defective induction of SIRT1 upon fasting was observed in the liver of Gna12 KO mice, which was reversed by lentivirus-mediated Gα12 overexpression in hepatocytes. Mechanistically, Gα12 stabilized SIRT1 protein through transcriptional induction of USP22 via HIF-1α increase. Gα12 levels were markedly diminished in liver biopsies from NAFLD patients. Consistently, Gna12 KO mice fed high-fat diet displayed greater susceptibility to diet-induced liver steatosis and obesity due to decrease in energy expenditure. Our results demonstrate that Gα12 regulates SIRT1-dependent mitochondrial respiration through HIF-1α-dependent USP22 induction, identifying Gα12 as an upstream molecule that contributes to the regulation of mitochondrial energy expenditure.
Tae Hyun Kim, Yoon Mee Yang, Chang Yeob Han, Ja Hyun Koo, Hyunhee Oh, Su Sung Kim, Byoung Hoon You, Young Hee Choi, Tae-Sik Park, Chang Ho Lee, Hitoshi Kurose, Mazen Noureddin, Ekihiro Seki, Yu-Jui Yvonne Wan, Cheol Soo Choi, Sang Geon Kim
Inflammation occurs in all tissues in response to injury or stress and is the key process underlying hepatic fibrogenesis. Targeting chronic and uncontrolled inflammation is one strategy to prevent liver injury and fibrosis progression. Here, we demonstrate that triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells-1 (TREM-1), an amplifier of inflammation, promotes liver disease by intensifying hepatic inflammation and fibrosis. In the liver, TREM-1 expression is limited to liver macrophages and monocytes and is highly upregulated on Kupffer cells, circulating monocytes, and monocyte-derived macrophages in a mouse model of chronic liver injury and fibrosis induced by carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) administration. TREM-1 signaling promotes pro-inflammatory cytokine production and mobilization of inflammatory cells to the site of injury. Deletion of Trem1 reduced liver injury, inflammatory cell infiltration, and fibrogenesis. Reconstitution of Trem1-deficient mice with Trem1-sufficient Kupffer cells restored recruitment of inflammatory monocytes and severity of liver injury. Markedly increased infiltration of liver fibrotic areas with TREM-1-positive Kupffer cells and monocytes/macrophages was found in patients with hepatic fibrosis. Our data support a role of TREM-1 in liver injury and hepatic fibrogenesis and suggests that TREM-1 is a master regulator of Kupffer cell activation, which escalates chronic liver inflammatory responses, activates hepatic stellate cells, and reveals a novel mechanism of promotion of liver fibrosis.
Anh Thu Nguyen-Lefebvre, Ashwin Ajith, Vera Portik-Dobos, Daniel David Horuzsko, Ali Syed Arbab, Amiran Dzutsev, Ramses Sadek, Giorgio Trinchieri, Anatolij Horuzsko
Chronic HBV (CHB) infection suppresses virus-specific T cells, but its impact on humoral immunity has been poorly analyzed. Here, we developed a dual staining method, which utilizes HBsAg labelled with fluorochromes as “baits”, for specific ex vivo detection of HBsAg-specific B cells and analysis of their quantity, function and phenotype. We studied healthy vaccinated subjects (n=18) and patients with resolved (n=21), acute (n=11) or chronic (n=96) HBV infection and observed that frequencies of circulating HBsAg-specific B cells are independent of the HBV infection status. In contrast, serum HBsAg presence affects function and phenotype of HBsAg-specific B cells that were unable to mature in vitro into antibody-secreting cells and displayed an increased expression of markers linked to hyperactivation (CD21low) and exhaustion (PD-1). Importantly, B cell alterations were not limited to HBsAg-specific B cells but affected the global B cell population. HBsAg-specific B cell maturation could be partially restored by a method involving the combination of IL-2, IL-21 and CD40L-expressing feeder cells, and further boosted by addition of anti-PD-1 antibodies.In conclusion, HBV infection has a marked impact on global and HBV-specific humoral immunity, yet HBsAg-specific B cells are amenable to a partial rescue by B cell maturing cytokines and PD-1 blockade.
Loghman Salimzadeh, Nina Le Bert, Charles-A. Dutertre, Upkar S. Gill, Evan W. Newell, Christian Frey, Magdeleine Hung, Nikolai Novikov, Simon Fletcher, Patrick T.F. Kennedy, Antonio Bertoletti
Cell death is a key driver of disease progression and carcinogenesis in chronic liver disease (CLD), highlighted by the well-established clinical correlation between hepatocellular death and risk for the development of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Moreover, hepatocellular death is sufficient to trigger fibrosis and HCC in mice. However, the pathways through which cell death drives CLD progression remain elusive. Here, we tested the hypothesis that high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), a damage-associated molecular pattern (DAMP) with key roles in acute liver injury, may link cell death to injury responses and hepatocarcinogenesis in CLD. While liver-specific HMGB1 deficiency did not significantly affect chronic injury responses such as fibrosis, regeneration and inflammation, it inhibited ductular/progenitor cell expansion and hepatocyte metaplasia. HMGB1 promoted ductular expansion independently of active secretion in a non-autonomous fashion, consistent with its role as DAMP. Liver-specific HMGB1 deficiency reduced HCC development in three models with chronic injury but not in a model lacking chronic liver injury. Similar to CLD, HMGB1 ablation reduced the expression of progenitor and oncofetal markers, a key determinant of HCC aggressiveness, in tumors. In summary, HMGB1 links hepatocyte death to ductular reaction, progenitor signature and hepatocarcinogenesis in CLD.
Céline Hernandez, Peter Huebener, Jean-Philippe Pradere, Daniel J. Antoine, Richard A. Friedman, Robert F. Schwabe
Autophagy is important for liver homeostasis and the deficiency leads to injury, inflammation, ductular reaction (DR), fibrosis, and tumorigenesis. It is not clear how these events are mechanistically linked to autophagy deficiency. Here we reveal the role of highmobility group box 1 (HMGB1) in two of these processes. First, HMGB1 was required for DR, which represents the expansion of hepatic progenitor cells (HPC) implicated in liver repair and regeneration. DR caused by hepatic toxic diets (DDC or CDE) also depended on HMGB1, indicating that HMGB1 may be generally required for DR in various injury scenarios. Second, HMGB1 promoted tumor development in autophagy deficient livers. Receptor for advanced glycation end product (RAGE), a receptor for HMGB1, was required in the same two processes, and could mediate HMGB1’s proliferative effects in isolated HPC. HMGB1 was released from autophagy-deficient hepatocytes independently of cellular injury, but depending on NRF2 and inflammasome, which was activated by NRF2. Pharmacological or genetic activation of NRF2 alone without disabling autophagy or causing injury was sufficient to cause inflammasomedependent HMGB1 release. In conclusion, HMGB1 release is a critical mechanism in hepatic pathogenesis under the autophagy deficient condition, which leads to HPC expansion but also tumor development.
Bilon Khambu, Nazmul Huda, Xiaoyun Chen, Daniel J. Antoine, Yong Li, Guoli Dai, Ulrike A. Köhler, Wei-Xing Zong, Satoshi Waguri, Sabine Werner, Tim D. Oury, Zheng Dong, Xiao-Ming Yin
Incidence of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is considered a hepatic manifestation of metabolic syndrome, has been increasing worldwide with the rise in obesity; however, its pathological mechanism is poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that the hepatic expression of aortic carboxypeptidase–like protein (ACLP), a glycosylated, secreted protein, increases in NASH in humans and mice. Furthermore, we elucidate that ACLP is a ligand, unrelated to WNT proteins, that activates the canonical WNT pathway and exacerbates NASH pathology. In the liver, ACLP is specifically expressed in hepatic stellate cells (HSCs). As fatty liver disease progresses, ACLP expression is enhanced via activation of STAT3 signaling by obesity-related factors in serum. ACLP specifically binds to frizzled-8 and low-density lipoprotein–related receptor 6 to form a ternary complex that activates canonical WNT signaling. Consequently, ACLP activates HSCs by inhibiting PPARγ signals. HSC-specific ACLP deficiency inhibits fibrosis progression in NASH by inhibiting canonical WNT signaling in HSCs. The present study elucidates the role of canonical WNT pathway activation by ACLP in NASH pathology, indicating that NASH can be treated by targeting ACLP-induced canonical WNT pathway activation in HSCs.
Toshiaki Teratani, Kengo Tomita, Takahiro Suzuki, Hirotaka Furuhashi, Rie Irie, Makoto Nishikawa, Junji Yamamoto, Toshifumi Hibi, Soichiro Miura, Tohru Minamino, Yuichi Oike, Ryota Hokari, Takanori Kanai
Understanding the molecular basis of the regenerative response following hepatic injury holds promise for improved treatments of liver diseases. Here, we report an innovative method to profile gene expression specifically in the hepatocytes that regenerate the liver following toxic injury. We utilize the Fah–/– mouse, a model of hereditary tyrosinemia, which conditionally undergoes severe liver injury unless fumarylacetoacetate hydrolase (FAH) expression is reconstituted ectopically. We employ translating ribosome affinity purification followed by high-throughput RNA sequencing (TRAP-seq) to isolate mRNAs specific to repopulating hepatocytes. We uncover novel upstream regulators and important signaling pathways to be highly enriched in genes changed in regenerating hepatocytes. Specifically, we identify glutathione metabolism — particularly the gene Slc7a11 encoding the cystine/glutamate antiporter (xCT) — to be massively upregulated during liver regeneration. Furthermore, we show that Slc7a11 overexpression in hepatocytes enhances, and its suppression inhibits, repopulation following toxic injury. TRAP-seq allows cell type-specific expression profiling in repopulating hepatocytes and suggests xCT as a potential therapeutic target for supporting antioxidant responses during liver regeneration.
Amber W. Wang, Kirk J. Wangensteen, Yue J. Wang, Adam M. Zahm, Nicholas G. Moss, Noam Erez, Klaus H. Kaestner
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a major risk factor for liver cancer; therefore, its prevention is an important clinical goal. Ablation of phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) or the protein kinase Hippo signaling pathway induces liver cancer via activation of AKT or the transcriptional regulators YAP/TAZ, respectively; however, the potential for crosstalk between the PTEN/AKT and Hippo/YAP/TAZ pathways in liver tumorigenesis has thus far remained unclear. Here, we have shown that deletion of both PTEN and SAV1 in the liver accelerates the development of NAFLD and liver cancer in mice. At the molecular level, activation of YAP/TAZ in the liver of Pten–/– Sav1–/– mice amplified AKT signaling through the upregulation of insulin receptor substrate 2 (IRS2) expression. Both ablation of YAP/TAZ and activation of the Hippo pathway could rescue these phenotypes. A high level of YAP/ TAZ expression was associated with a high level of IRS2 expression in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Moreover, treatment with the AKT inhibitor MK-2206 or knockout of IRS2 by AAV-Cas9 successfully repressed liver tumorigenesis in Pten–/– Sav1–/– mice. Thus, our findings suggest that Hippo signaling interacts with AKT signaling by regulating IRS2 expression to prevent NAFLD and liver cancer progression and provide evidence that impaired crosstalk between these 2 pathways accelerates NAFLD and liver cancer.
Sun-Hye Jeong, Han-Byul Kim, Min-Chul Kim, Ji-min Lee, Jae Ho Lee, Jeong-Hwan Kim, Jin-Woo Kim, Woong-Yang Park, Seon-Young Kim, Jae Bum Kim, Haeryoung Kim, Jin-Man Kim, Hueng-Sik Choi, Dae-Sik Lim
BACKGROUND. The clinical management of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) patients is based exclusively on virological parameters that cannot independently determine in which patients nucleos(t)ide-analogue (NUC) therapy can be safely discontinued. NUCs efficiently suppress viral replication, but do not eliminate HBV. Thus, therapy discontinuation can be associated with virological and biochemical relapse and, consequently, therapy in the majority is life-long. METHODS. Since antiviral immunity is pivotal for HBV control, we investigated potential biomarkers for the safe discontinuation of NUCs within immune profiles of chronic HBV patients by utilizing traditional immunological assays (ELISPOT, flow cytometry) in conjunction with analyses of global non–antigen-specific immune populations (NanoString and CyTOF). Two distinct cohorts of 19 and 27 chronic HBV patients, respectively, were analyzed longitudinally prior to and after discontinuation of 2 different NUC therapy strategies. RESULTS. Absence of hepatic flares following discontinuation of NUC treatment correlated with the presence, during NUC viral suppression, of HBV core and polymerase-specific T cells that were contained within the ex vivo PD-1+ population. CONCLUSIONS. This study identifies the presence of functional HBV-specific T cells as a candidate immunological biomarker for safe therapy discontinuation in chronic HBV patients. Furthermore, the persistent and functional antiviral activity of PD-1+ HBV–specific T cells highlights the potential beneficial role of the expression of T cell exhaustion markers during human chronic viral infection. FUNDING. This work was funded by a Singapore Translational Research Investigator Award (NMRC/STaR/013/2012), the Eradication of HBV TCR Program (NMRC/TCR/014-NUHS/2015), the Singapore Immunology Network, the Wellcome Trust (107389/Z/15/Z), and a Barts and The London Charity (723/1795) grant.
Laura Rivino, Nina Le Bert, Upkar S. Gill, Kamini Kunasegaran, Yang Cheng, Damien Z.M. Tan, Etienne Becht, Navjyot K. Hansi, Graham R. Foster, Tung-Hung Su, Tai-Chung Tseng, Seng Gee Lim, Jia-Horng Kao, Evan W. Newell, Patrick T.F. Kennedy, Antonio Bertoletti