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PLoS Biol. 2019 Jan 29;17(1):e2006972. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2006972. eCollection 2019 Jan.

Insulin resistance disrupts epithelial repair and niche-progenitor Fgf signaling during chronic liver injury.

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CIBERDEM (Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Diabetes y Enfermedades Metabólicas Asociadas), Madrid, Spain.
Centro de Investigación Príncipe Felipe, Valencia, Spain.
Instituto Valenciano de Patología, Universidad Católica de Valencia San Vicente Màrtir, Valencia, Spain.


Insulin provides important information to tissues about feeding behavior and energy status. Defective insulin signaling is associated with ageing, tissue dysfunction, and impaired wound healing. In the liver, insulin resistance leads to chronic damage and fibrosis, but it is unclear how tissue-repair mechanisms integrate insulin signals to coordinate an appropriate injury response or how they are affected by insulin resistance. In this study, we demonstrate that insulin resistance impairs local cellular crosstalk between the fibrotic stroma and bipotent adult liver progenitor cells (LPCs), whose paracrine interactions promote epithelial repair and tissue remodeling. Using insulin-resistant mice deficient for insulin receptor substrate 2 (Irs2), we highlight dramatic impairment of proregenerative fibroblast growth factor 7 (Fgf7) signaling between stromal niche cells and LPCs during chronic injury. We provide a detailed account of the role played by IRS2 in promoting Fgf7 ligand and receptor (Fgfr2-IIIb) expression by the two cell compartments, and we describe an insulin/IRS2-dependent feed-forward loop capable of sustaining hepatic re-epithelialization by driving FGFR2-IIIb expression. Finally, we shed light on the regulation of IRS2 and FGF7 within the fibrotic stroma and show-using a human coculture system-that IRS2 silencing shifts the equilibrium away from paracrine epithelial repair in favor of fibrogenesis. Hence, we offer a compelling insight into the contribution of insulin resistance to the pathogenesis of chronic liver disease and propose IRS2 as a positive regulator of communication between cell types and the transition between phases of stromal to epithelial repair.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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