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J Cell Physiol. 2012 Mar;227(3):1081-9. doi: 10.1002/jcp.22824.

AMP-activated protein kinase inhibits TGF-β-induced fibrogenic responses of hepatic stellate cells by targeting transcriptional coactivator p300.

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Division of Intractable Diseases, Center for Biomedical Sciences, National Institute of Health, Chungcheongbuk-do, Korea.


Liver fibrosis is a common consequence of various chronic liver injuries, including virus infection and ethanol. Activated hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) contribute to liver fibrosis through the accumulation of extracellular matrix proteins, including type I alpha collagen (COL1A). The activation of adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) modulates HSCs activation, but its underlying mechanism remains unclear. Here, we report that AMPK inhibits transforming growth factor (TGF)-β-induced fibrogenic property of HSCs by regulating transcriptional coactivator p300. We treated human (LX-2) and rat (CFSC-2G) HSC lines with TGF-β to induce fibrogenic activation of HSCs. Pharmacological activation of AMPK by treatment with 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-beta-4-ribofuranoside (AICAR), metformin, or adiponectin lowered TGF-β-induced expression of COL1A and myofibroblast marker alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA). Transient transduction of constitutively active AMPKα (caAMPKα) was sufficient to attenuate COL1A and α-SMA expression, whereas an AMPK inhibitor considerably abrogated the inhibitory effect of AICAR on fibrogenic gene expression. Although AMPK significantly suppressed Smad-dependent transcription, it did not affect TGF-β-stimulated phosphorylation, nuclear localization, or DNA-binding activity of Smad2/3. AICAR rather attenuated TGF-β-induced Smad3 interaction with transcriptional coactivator p300 accompanying with reduction of Smad3 acetylation. Moreover, AICAR induced not only physical interaction between AMPK and p300 but also proteasomal degradation of p300 protein. Our data provide substantial evidence that AMPK could be a novel therapeutic target for treatment of liver fibrosis, by demonstrating the underlying mechanism of AMPK-induced antifibrotic function in HSCs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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