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PLoS One. 2016 Aug 4;11(8):e0160525. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0160525. eCollection 2016.

AP-1 Inhibition by SR 11302 Protects Human Hepatoma HepG2 Cells from Bile Acid-Induced Cytotoxicity by Restoring the NOS-3 Expression.

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Maimonides Institute of Biomedical Research in Córdoba (IMIBIC), Reina Sofía University Hospital, University of Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain.
Biomedical Research Centre Network, Digestive and Liver Diseases (CIBEREHD), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Córdoba, Spain.


The harmful effects of bile acid accumulation occurring during cholestatic liver diseases have been associated with oxidative stress increase and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (NOS-3) expression decrease in liver cells. We have previously reported that glycochenodeoxycholic acid (GCDCA) down-regulates gene expression by increasing SP1 binding to the NOS-3 promoter in an oxidative stress dependent manner. In the present study, we aimed to investigate the role of transcription factor (TF) AP-1 on the NOS-3 deregulation during GCDCA-induced cholestasis. The cytotoxic response to GCDCA was characterized by 1) the increased expression and activation of TFs cJun and c-Fos; 2) a higher binding capability of these at position -666 of the NOS-3 promoter; 3) a decrease of the transcriptional activity of the promoter and the expression and activity of NOS-3; and 4) the expression increase of cyclin D1. Specific inhibition of AP-1 by the retinoid SR 11302 counteracted the cytotoxic effects induced by GCDCA while promoting NOS-3 expression recovery and cyclin D1 reduction. NOS activity inhibition by L-NAME inhibited the protective effect of SR 11302. Inducible NOS isoform was no detected in this experimental model of cholestasis. Our data provide direct evidence for the involvement of AP-1 in the NOS-3 expression regulation during cholestasis and define a critical role for NOS-3 in regulating the expression of cyclin D1 during the cell damage induced by bile acids. AP-1 appears as a potential therapeutic target in cholestatic liver diseases given its role as a transcriptional repressor of NOS-3.

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