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Am J Physiol. 1997 Oct;273(4):G804-11. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.1997.273.4.G804.

Fibronectin and cytokines increase JNK, ERK, AP-1 activity, and transin gene expression in rat hepatic stellate cells.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, Missouri 63110, USA.


Cytokines, growth factors, and alterations in the extracellular matrix composition may play a role in maintaining hepatic stellate cells (HSC) in the activated state that is responsible for hepatic fibrogenesis. However, the signal transduction pathways that are stimulated by these factors in HSC remain to be fully elucidated. Recent evidence indicates that the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) family, including c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), plays an important role in the cellular response to stress. The aims of this study were to investigate whether fibronectin (FN) or the inflammatory cytokines interleukin-1alpha (IL-1alpha) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) activate JNK, ERK, and AP-1 activity in HSC and induce the gene expression of the matrix metalloproteinase transin. Treatment of HSC with FN resulted in an up to 4.5-fold increase in ERK activity and a 2.1-fold increase in JNK activity. IL-1alpha and TNF-alpha produced up to a fourfold increase in JNK activity and a twofold increase in ERK activity. We then compared the effects of FN, IL-1alpha, and TNF-alpha on AP-1 activity and metalloproteinase mRNA induction. All three compounds increased AP-1 binding and promoter activity, and transin mRNA levels were increased 1.8-fold by FN, 2.2-fold by IL-1alpha, and 2.8-fold by TNF-alpha. Therefore, FN and inflammatory cytokines increase MAPK activity, stimulate AP-1 activity, and increase transin gene expression in HSC. Signal transduction pathways involving the MAPK family may play an important role in the regulation of matrix metalloproteinase expression by cytokines and FN in HSC.

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