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Eur J Cell Biol. 2001 Aug;80(8):554-61.

The bcl, NFkappaB and p53/p21WAF1 systems are involved in spontaneous apoptosis and in the anti-apoptotic effect of TGF-beta or TNF-alpha on activated hepatic stellate cells.

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University of Göttingen, Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Gastroenterology and Endocrinology, Germany.


Activated hepatic stellate cells (HSC) are thought to play a pivotal role in development of liver fibrosis which takes place in chronic liver diseases. Previous studies have shown that "activated" rat HSC undergo spontaneous apoptosis probably through the CD95/CD95L pathway. TGF-beta as well as TNF-alpha reduced spontaneous apoptosis and CD95L expression. The aim of this study was to investigate the possible mechanisms responsible for the spontaneous apoptosis and for the anti-apoptotic effect of TGF-beta and TNF-alpha on activated HSC. While bcl-2, bax, NFkappaB and p53 gene expression were spontaneously upregulated, bcl-xL and p21WAF1 gene expression decreased and IkappaB remained unchanged during the activation process in vitro. TGF-beta as well as TNF-alpha induced activation of NFKB and upregulated bcl-xL. The latter was inhibited by overexpression of IkappaB. By suppressing spontaneous apoptosis TGF-beta as well as TNF-alpha inhibited p53 gene expression while that of the p21WAF1 gene was increased. We conclude that TGF-beta as well as TNF-alpha may act as surviving factors for activated rat HSC not only through reduction of CD95L gene expression but also by upregulating the anti-apoptotic factors NFKB, bcl-xL and p21WAF1 and by downregulating the proapoptotic factor p53. The interaction with these factors may lead to the generation of new antifibrotic drugs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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