Patients with cholestatic disease exhibit pruritus and analgesia, but the mechanisms underlying these symptoms are unknown. We report that bile acids, which are elevated in the circulation and tissues during cholestasis, cause itch and analgesia by activating the GPCR TGR5. TGR5 was detected in peptidergic neurons of mouse dorsal root ganglia and spinal cord that transmit itch and pain, and in dermal macrophages that contain opioids. Bile acids and a TGR5-selective agonist induced hyperexcitability of dorsal root ganglia neurons and stimulated the release of the itch and analgesia transmitters gastrin-releasing peptide and leucine-enkephalin. Intradermal injection of bile acids and a TGR5-selective agonist stimulated scratching behavior by gastrin-releasing peptide– and opioid-dependent mechanisms in mice. Scratching was attenuated in
Farzad Alemi, Edwin Kwon, Daniel P. Poole, TinaMarie Lieu, Victoria Lyo, Fiore Cattaruzza, Ferda Cevikbas, Martin Steinhoff, Romina Nassini, Serena Materazzi, Raquel Guerrero-Alba, Eduardo Valdez-Morales, Graeme S. Cottrell, Kristina Schoonjans, Pierangelo Geppetti, Stephen J. Vanner, Nigel W. Bunnett, Carlos U. Corvera
A genetic variant in PNPLA3 (PNPLA3I148M), a triacylglycerol (TAG) hydrolase, is a major risk factor for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD); however, the mechanism underlying this association is not known. To develop an animal model of PNPLA3-induced fatty liver disease, we generated transgenic mice that overexpress similar amounts of wild-type PNPLA3 (PNPLA3WT) or mutant PNPLA3 (PNPLA3I148M) either in liver or adipose tissue. Overexpression of the transgenes in adipose tissue did not affect liver fat content. Expression of PNPLA3I148M, but not PNPLA3WT, in liver recapitulated the fatty liver phenotype as well as other metabolic features associated with this allele in humans. Metabolic studies provided evidence for 3 distinct alterations in hepatic TAG metabolism in PNPLA3I148M transgenic mice: increased formation of fatty acids and TAG, impaired hydrolysis of TAG, and relative depletion of TAG long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. These findings suggest that PNPLA3 plays a role in remodeling TAG in lipid droplets, as they accumulate in response to food intake, and that the increase in hepatic TAG levels associated with the I148M substitution results from multiple changes in hepatic TAG metabolism. The development of an animal model that recapitulates the metabolic phenotype of the allele in humans provides a new platform in which to elucidate the role of PNLPA3I148M in NAFLD.
John Zhong Li, Yongcheng Huang, Ruchan Karaman, Pavlina T. Ivanova, H. Alex Brown, Thomas Roddy, Jose Castro-Perez, Jonathan C. Cohen, Helen H. Hobbs
Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is characterized by steatosis and upregulation of proinflammatory cytokines, including IL-1β. IL-1β, type I IL-1 receptor (IL-1R1), and IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) are all important regulators of the IL-1 signaling complex, which plays a role in inflammation. Furthermore, IL-1β maturation is dependent on caspase-1 (Casp-1). Using IL-1Ra–treated mice as well as 3 mouse models deficient in regulators of IL-1β activation (Casp-1 and ASC) or signaling (IL-1R1), we found that IL-1β signaling is required for the development of alcohol-induced liver steatosis, inflammation, and injury. Increased IL-1β was due to upregulation of Casp-1 activity and inflammasome activation. The pathogenic role of IL-1 signaling in ALD was attributable to the activation of the inflammasome in BM-derived Kupffer cells. Importantly, in vivo intervention with a recombinant IL-1Ra blocked IL-1 signaling and markedly attenuated alcohol-induced liver inflammation, steatosis, and damage. Furthermore, physiological doses of IL-1β induced steatosis, increased the inflammatory and prosteatotic chemokine MCP-1 in hepatocytes, and augmented TLR4-dependent upregulation of inflammatory signaling in macrophages. In conclusion, we demonstrated that Casp-1–dependent upregulation of IL-1β and signaling mediated by IL-1R1 are crucial in ALD pathogenesis. Our findings suggest a potential role of IL-1R1 inhibition in the treatment of ALD.
Jan Petrasek, Shashi Bala, Timea Csak, Dora Lippai, Karen Kodys, Victoria Menashy, Matthew Barrieau, So-Yun Min, Evelyn A. Kurt-Jones, Gyongyi Szabo
Over half of the mature hepatocytes in mice and humans are aneuploid and yet retain full ability to undergo mitosis. This observation has raised the question of whether this unusual somatic genetic variation evolved as an adaptive mechanism in response to hepatic injury. According to this model, hepatotoxic insults select for hepatocytes with specific numerical chromosome abnormalities, rendering them differentially resistant to injury. To test this hypothesis, we utilized a strain of mice heterozygous for a mutation in the homogentisic acid dioxygenase (Hgd) gene located on chromosome 16. Loss of the remaining Hgd allele protects from fumarylacetoacetate hydrolase (Fah) deficiency, a genetic liver disease model. When adult mice heterozygous for Hgd and lacking Fah were exposed to chronic liver damage, injury-resistant nodules consisting of Hgd-null hepatocytes rapidly emerged. To determine whether aneuploidy played a role in this phenomenon, array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) and metaphase karyotyping were performed. Strikingly, loss of chromosome 16 was dramatically enriched in all mice that became completely resistant to tyrosinemia-induced hepatic injury. The frequency of chromosome 16–specific aneuploidy was approximately 50%. This result indicates that selection of a specific aneuploid karyotype can result in the adaptation of hepatocytes to chronic liver injury. The extent to which aneuploidy promotes hepatic adaptation in humans remains under investigation.
Andrew W. Duncan, Amy E. Hanlon Newell, Weimin Bi, Milton J. Finegold, Susan B. Olson, Arthur L. Beaudet, Markus Grompe
Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas (ICCs) are primary liver tumors with a poor prognosis. The development of effective therapies has been hampered by a limited understanding of the biology of ICCs. Although ICCs exhibit heterogeneity in location, histology, and marker expression, they are currently thought to derive invariably from the cells lining the bile ducts, biliary epithelial cells (BECs), or liver progenitor cells (LPCs). Despite lack of experimental evidence establishing BECs or LPCs as the origin of ICCs, other liver cell types have not been considered. Here we show that ICCs can originate from fully differentiated hepatocytes. Using a mouse model of hepatocyte fate tracing, we found that activated NOTCH and AKT signaling cooperate to convert normal hepatocytes into biliary cells that act as precursors of rapidly progressing, lethal ICCs. Our findings suggest a previously overlooked mechanism of human ICC formation that may be targetable for anti-ICC therapy.
Biao Fan, Yann Malato, Diego F. Calvisi, Syed Naqvi, Nataliya Razumilava, Silvia Ribback, Gregory J. Gores, Frank Dombrowski, Matthias Evert, Xin Chen, Holger Willenbring
Liver X receptors (LXRα and LXRβ) are important regulators of cholesterol and lipid metabolism, and their activation has been shown to inhibit cardiovascular disease and reduce atherosclerosis in animal models. Small molecule agonists of LXR activity are therefore of great therapeutic interest. However, the finding that such agonists also promote hepatic lipogenesis has led to the idea that hepatic LXR activity is undesirable from a therapeutic perspective. To investigate whether this might be true, we performed gene targeting to selectively delete LXRα in hepatocytes. Liver-specific deletion of LXRα in mice substantially decreased reverse cholesterol transport, cholesterol catabolism, and cholesterol excretion, revealing the essential importance of hepatic LXRα for whole body cholesterol homeostasis. Additionally, in a pro-atherogenic background, liver-specific deletion of LXRα increased atherosclerosis, uncovering an important function for hepatic LXR activity in limiting cardiovascular disease. Nevertheless, synthetic LXR agonists still elicited anti-atherogenic activity in the absence of hepatic LXRα, indicating that the ability of agonists to reduce cardiovascular disease did not require an increase in cholesterol excretion. Furthermore, when non-atherogenic mice were treated with synthetic LXR agonists, liver-specific deletion of LXRα eliminated the detrimental effect of increased plasma triglycerides, while the beneficial effect of increased plasma HDL was unaltered. In sum, these observations suggest that therapeutic strategies that bypass the liver or limit the activation of hepatic LXRs should still be beneficial for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
Yuan Zhang, Sarah R. Breevoort, Jerry Angdisen, Mingui Fu, Daniel R. Schmidt, Sam R. Holmstrom, Steven A. Kliewer, David J. Mangelsdorf, Ira G. Schulman
The acute phase response is an evolutionarily conserved reaction in which physiological stress triggers the liver to remodel the blood proteome. Although thought to be involved in immune defense, the net biological effect of the acute phase response remains unknown. As the acute phase response is stimulated by diverse cytokines that activate either NF-κB or STAT3, we hypothesized that it could be eliminated by hepatocyte-specific interruption of both transcription factors. Here, we report that the elimination in mice of both NF-κB p65 (RelA) and STAT3, but neither alone, abrogated all acute phase responses measured. The failure to respond was consistent across multiple different infectious, inflammatory, and noxious stimuli, including pneumococcal pneumonia. When the effects of infection were analyzed in detail, pneumococcal pneumonia was found to alter the expression of over a thousand transcripts in the liver. This outcome was inhibited by the combined loss of RelA and STAT3. Moreover, this interruption of the acute phase response increased mortality and exacerbated bacterial dissemination during pneumonia, possibly as a result of acute humoral enhancement of macrophage opsonophagocytosis, which was impaired in the mutant mice. Thus, we conclude that RelA and STAT3 are essential for stress-induced transcriptional remodeling in the liver and the subsequent activation of the acute phase response, whose functional role includes compartmentalization of local infection.
Lee J. Quinton, Matthew T. Blahna, Matthew R. Jones, Eri Allen, Joseph D. Ferrari, Kristie L. Hilliard, Xiaoling Zhang, Vishakha Sabharwal, Hana Algül, Shizuo Akira, Roland M. Schmid, Stephen I. Pelton, Avrum Spira, Joseph P. Mizgerd
The ability of the liver to regenerate is crucial to protect liver function after injury and during chronic disease. Increases in hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) in liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) are thought to drive liver regeneration. However, in contrast to endothelial progenitor cells, mature LSECs express little HGF. Therefore, we sought to establish in rats whether liver injury causes BM LSEC progenitor cells to engraft in the liver and provide increased levels of HGF and to examine the relative contribution of resident and BM LSEC progenitors. LSEC label-retaining cells and progenitors were identified in liver and LSEC progenitors in BM. BM LSEC progenitors did not contribute to normal LSEC turnover in the liver. However, after partial hepatectomy, BM LSEC progenitor proliferation and mobilization to the circulation doubled. In the liver, one-quarter of the LSECs were BM derived, and BM LSEC progenitors differentiated into fenestrated LSECs. When irradiated rats underwent partial hepatectomy, liver regeneration was compromised, but infusion of LSEC progenitors rescued the defect. Further analysis revealed that BM LSEC progenitors expressed substantially more HGF and were more proliferative than resident LSEC progenitors after partial hepatectomy. Resident LSEC progenitors within their niche may play a smaller role in recovery from partial hepatectomy than BM LSEC progenitors, but, when infused after injury, these progenitors engrafted and expanded markedly over a 2-month period. In conclusion, LSEC progenitor cells are present in liver and BM, and recruitment of BM LSEC progenitors is necessary for normal liver regeneration.
Lin Wang, Xiangdong Wang, Guanhua Xie, Lei Wang, Colin K. Hill, Laurie D. DeLeve
Acetaminophen (APAP) overdose is the predominant cause of acute liver failure in the United States. Toxicity begins with a reactive metabolite that binds to proteins. In rodents, this leads to mitochondrial dysfunction and nuclear DNA fragmentation, resulting in necrotic cell death. While APAP metabolism is similar in humans, the later events resulting in toxicity have not been investigated in patients. In this study, levels of biomarkers of mitochondrial damage (glutamate dehydrogenase [GDH] and mitochondrial DNA [mtDNA]) and nuclear DNA fragments were measured in plasma from APAP-overdose patients. Overdose patients with no or minimal hepatic injury who had normal liver function tests (LTs) (referred to herein as the normal LT group) and healthy volunteers served as controls. Peak GDH activity and mtDNA concentration were increased in plasma from patients with abnormal LT. Peak nuclear DNA fragmentation in the abnormal LT cohort was also increased over that of controls. Parallel studies in mice revealed that these plasma biomarkers correlated well with tissue injury. Caspase-3 activity and cleaved caspase-3 were not detectable in plasma from overdose patients or mice, but were elevated after TNF-induced apoptosis, indicating that APAP overdose does not cause apoptosis. Thus, our results suggest that mitochondrial damage and nuclear DNA fragmentation are likely to be critical events in APAP hepatotoxicity in humans, resulting in necrotic cell death.
Mitchell R. McGill, Matthew R. Sharpe, C. David Williams, Mohammad Taha, Steven C. Curry, Hartmut Jaeschke
MicroRNA-21 (miR-21) is thought to be an oncomir because it promotes cancer cell proliferation, migration, and survival. miR-21 is also expressed in normal cells, but its physiological role is poorly understood. Recently, it has been found that miR-21 expression is rapidly induced in rodent hepatocytes during liver regeneration after two-thirds partial hepatectomy (2/3 PH). Here, we investigated the function of miR-21 in regenerating mouse hepatocytes by inhibiting it with an antisense oligonucleotide. To maintain normal hepatocyte viability and function, we antagonized the miR-21 surge induced by 2/3 PH while preserving baseline expression. We found that knockdown of miR-21 impaired progression of hepatocytes into S phase of the cell cycle, mainly through a decrease in levels of cyclin D1 protein, but not Ccnd1 mRNA. Mechanistically, we discovered that increased miR-21 expression facilitated cyclin D1 translation in the early phase of liver regeneration by relieving Akt1/mTOR complex 1 signaling (and thus eIF-4F–mediated translation initiation) from suppression by Rhob. Our findings reveal that miR-21 enables rapid hepatocyte proliferation during liver regeneration by accelerating cyclin D1 translation.
Raymond Ng, Guisheng Song, Garrett R. Roll, Niels M. Frandsen, Holger Willenbring