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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1998 Aug 10;1366(1-2):167-75.

Induction of the mitochondrial permeability transition as a mechanism of liver injury during cholestasis: a potential role for mitochondrial proteases.

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Mayo Medical School, Clinic, and Foundation, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


As part of this thematic series on mitochondria in cell death, we would like to review our data on: (1) the role of the mitochondrial permeability transition (MPT) in hepatocyte necrosis during cholestasis; and (2) the concept that endogenous mitochondrial protease activity may lead to the MPT. Many chronic human liver diseases are characterized by cholestasis, an impairment in bile flow. During cholestasis an accumulation of toxic hydrophobic bile salts in the hepatocyte causes necrosis. We tested the hypothesis that toxic hydrophobic bile salt, glycochenodeoxycholate (GCDC), causes hepatocyte necrosis by inducing the MPT. GCDC induces a rapid, cyclosporin A-sensitive MPT. The hydrophilic bile salt, ursodeoxycholate (UDCA), prevents the GCDC-induced MPT and hepatocyte necrosis providing an explanation for its beneficial effect in human liver disease. We have also demonstrated that the calcium-dependent MPT is associated with an increase in calpain-like protease activity and inhibited by calpain inhibitors. In an experimental model of cholestasis, mitochondrial calpain-like protease activity increases 1.6-fold. We propose for the first time that activation of mitochondrial proteases may initiate the MPT and cell necrosis during cholestasis.

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