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
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is characterized by progressive liver injury, inflammation, and fibrosis; however, the mechanisms that govern the transition from hepatic steatosis, which is relatively benign, to NASH remain poorly defined. Neuregulin 4 (Nrg4) is an adipose tissue–enriched endocrine factor that elicits beneficial metabolic effects in obesity. Here, we show that Nrg4 is a key component of an endocrine checkpoint that preserves hepatocyte health and counters diet-induced NASH in mice. Nrg4 deficiency accelerated liver injury, fibrosis, inflammation, and cell death in a mouse model of NASH. In contrast, transgenic expression of Nrg4 in adipose tissue alleviated diet-induced NASH. Nrg4 attenuated hepatocyte death in a cell-autonomous manner by blocking ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of c-FLIPL, a negative regulator of cell death. Adeno-associated virus–mediated (AAV-mediated) rescue of hepatic c-FLIPL expression in Nrg4-deficent mice functionally restored the brake for steatosis to NASH transition. Thus, hepatic Nrg4 signaling serves as an endocrine checkpoint for steatosis-to-NASH progression by activating a cytoprotective pathway to counter stress-induced liver injury.
Liang Guo, Peng Zhang, Zhimin Chen, Houjun Xia, Siming Li, Yanqiao Zhang, Sune Kobberup, Weiping Zou, Jiandie D. Lin
Overconsumption of high-fat diet (HFD) and sugar-sweetened beverages are risk factors for developing obesity, insulin resistance, and fatty liver disease. Here we have dissected mechanisms underlying this association using mice fed either chow or HFD with or without fructose- or glucose-supplemented water. In chow-fed mice, there was no major physiological difference between fructose and glucose supplementation. On the other hand, mice on HFD supplemented with fructose developed more pronounced obesity, glucose intolerance, and hepatomegaly as compared to glucose-supplemented HFD mice, despite similar caloric intake. Fructose and glucose supplementation also had distinct effects on expression of the lipogenic transcription factors ChREBP and SREBP1c. While both sugars increased ChREBP-β, fructose supplementation uniquely increased SREBP1c and downstream fatty acid synthesis genes, resulting in reduced liver insulin signaling. In contrast, glucose enhanced total ChREBP expression and triglyceride synthesis but was associated with improved hepatic insulin signaling. Metabolomic and RNA sequence analysis confirmed dichotomous effects of fructose and glucose supplementation on liver metabolism in spite of inducing similar hepatic lipid accumulation. Ketohexokinase, the first enzyme of fructose metabolism, was increased in fructose-fed mice and in obese humans with steatohepatitis. Knockdown of ketohexokinase in liver improved hepatic steatosis and glucose tolerance in fructose-supplemented mice. Thus, fructose is a component of dietary sugar that is distinctively associated with poor metabolic outcomes, whereas increased glucose intake may be protective.
Samir Softic, Manoj K. Gupta, Guo-Xiao Wang, Shiho Fujisaka, Brian T. O’Neill, Tata Nageswara Rao, Jennifer Willoughby, Carole Harbison, Kevin Fitzgerald, Olga Ilkayeva, Christopher B. Newgard, David E. Cohen, C. Ronald Kahn
The mechanisms that regulate cell death and inflammation play an important role in liver disease and cancer. Receptor-interacting protein kinase 1 (RIPK1) induces apoptosis and necroptosis via kinase-dependent mechanisms and exhibits kinase-independent prosurvival and proinflammatory functions. Here, we have used genetic mouse models to study the role of RIPK1 in liver homeostasis, injury, and cancer. While ablating either RIPK1 or RelA in liver parenchymal cells (LPCs) did not cause spontaneous liver pathology, mice with combined deficiency of RIPK1 and RelA in LPCs showed increased hepatocyte apoptosis and developed spontaneous chronic liver disease and cancer that were independent of TNF receptor 1 (TNFR1) signaling. In contrast, mice with LPC-specific knockout of Ripk1 showed reduced diethylnitrosamine-induced (DEN-induced) liver tumorigenesis that correlated with increased DEN-induced hepatocyte apoptosis. Lack of RIPK1 kinase activity did not inhibit DEN-induced liver tumor formation, showing that kinase-independent functions of RIPK1 promote DEN-induced hepatocarcinogenesis. Moreover, mice lacking both RIPK1 and TNFR1 in LPCs displayed normal tumor formation in response to DEN, demonstrating that RIPK1 deficiency decreases DEN-induced liver tumor formation in a TNFR1-dependent manner. Therefore, these findings indicate that RIPK1 cooperates with NF-κB signaling to prevent TNFR1-independent hepatocyte apoptosis and the development of chronic liver disease and cancer, but acts downstream of TNFR1 signaling to promote DEN-induced liver tumorigenesis.
Trieu-My Van, Apostolos Polykratis, Beate Katharina Straub, Vangelis Kondylis, Nikoletta Papadopoulou, Manolis Pasparakis
BACKGROUND. The risk of advanced fibrosis in first-degree relatives of patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and cirrhosis (NAFLD-cirrhosis) is unknown and needs to be systematically quantified. We aimed to prospectively assess the risk of advanced fibrosis in first-degree relatives of probands with NAFLD-cirrhosis. METHODS. This is a cross-sectional analysis of a prospective cohort of 26 probands with NAFLD-cirrhosis and 39 first-degree relatives. The control population included 69 community-dwelling twin, sib-sib, or parent-offspring pairs (n = 138), comprising 69 individuals randomly ascertained to be without evidence of NAFLD and 69 of their first-degree relatives. The primary outcome was presence of advanced fibrosis (stage 3 or 4 fibrosis). NAFLD was assessed clinically and quantified by MRI proton density fat fraction (MRI-PDFF). Advanced fibrosis was diagnosed by liver stiffness greater than 3.63 kPa using magnetic resonance elastography (MRE). RESULTS. The prevalence of advanced fibrosis in first-degree relatives of probands with NAFLD-cirrhosis was significantly higher than that in the control population (17.9% vs. 1.4%, P = 0.0032). Compared with controls, the odds of advanced fibrosis among the first-degree relatives of probands with NAFLD-cirrhosis were odds ratio 14.9 (95% CI, 1.8–126.0, P = 0.0133). Even after multivariable adjustment by age, sex, Hispanic ethnicity, BMI, and diabetes status, the risk of advanced fibrosis remained both statistically and clinically significant (multivariable-adjusted odds ratio 12.5; 95% CI, 1.1–146.1, P = 0.0438). CONCLUSION. Using a well-phenotyped familial cohort, we demonstrated that first-degree relatives of probands with NAFLD-cirrhosis have a 12 times higher risk of advanced fibrosis. Advanced fibrosis screening may be considered in first-degree relatives of NAFLD-cirrhosis patients. TRIAL REGISTRATION. UCSD IRB: 140084. FUNDING. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH.
Cyrielle Caussy, Meera Soni, Jeffrey Cui, Ricki Bettencourt, Nicholas Schork, Chi-Hua Chen, Mahdi Al Ikhwan, Shirin Bassirian, Sandra Cepin, Monica P. Gonzalez, Michel Mendler, Yuko Kono, Irine Vodkin, Kristin Mekeel, Jeffrey Haldorson, Alan Hemming, Barbara Andrews, Joanie Salotti, Lisa Richards, David A. Brenner, Claude B. Sirlin, Rohit Loomba, the Familial NAFLD Cirrhosis Research Consortium