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
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
Epidemiologic and animal studies implicate overconsumption of fructose in the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, but the molecular mechanisms underlying fructose-induced chronic liver diseases remain largely unknown. Here, we have presented evidence supporting the essential function of the lipogenic transcription factor carbohydrate response element–binding protein (ChREBP) in mediating adaptive responses to fructose and protecting against fructose-induced hepatotoxicity. In WT mice, a high-fructose diet (HFrD) activated hepatic lipogenesis in a ChREBP-dependent manner; however, in Chrebp-KO mice, a HFrD induced steatohepatitis. In Chrebp-KO mouse livers, a HFrD reduced levels of molecular chaperones and activated the C/EBP homologous protein–dependent (CHOP-dependent) unfolded protein response, whereas administration of a chemical chaperone or Chop shRNA rescued liver injury. Elevated expression levels of cholesterol biosynthesis genes in HFrD-fed Chrebp-KO livers were paralleled by an increased nuclear abundance of sterol regulatory element–binding protein 2 (SREBP2). Atorvastatin-mediated inhibition of hepatic cholesterol biosynthesis or depletion of hepatic Srebp2 reversed fructose-induced liver injury in Chrebp-KO mice. Mechanistically, we determined that ChREBP binds to nuclear SREBP2 to promote its ubiquitination and destabilization in cultured cells. Therefore, our findings demonstrate that ChREBP provides hepatoprotection against a HFrD by preventing overactivation of cholesterol biosynthesis and the subsequent CHOP-mediated, proapoptotic unfolded protein response. Our findings also identified a role for ChREBP in regulating SREBP2-dependent cholesterol metabolism.
Deqiang Q. Zhang, Xin Tong, Kyle VanDommelen, Neil Gupta, Kenneth Stamper, Graham F. Brady, Zhuoxian Meng, Jiandie D. Lin, Liangyou Y. Rui, M. Bishr Omary, Lei Yin