International journal of molecular medicine

Sodium ferulate lowers portal pressure in rats with secondary biliary cirrhosis through the RhoA/Rho-kinase signaling pathway: a preliminary study.

PMID 25174394


Cirrhotic rats show higher expression levels of hepatic RhoA and Rho-kinase than normal healthy rats, and the activation of this signaling pathway leads to portal hypertension. Sodium ferulate (SF) has been shown to decrease the production of geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP), a substance essential for RhoA activation. In the present study, to investigate the effects of SF on fibrosis, portal hypertension and the RhoA/Rho-kinase pathway, hepatic cirrhosis was induced in rats by bile duct ligation. Liver function and fibrogenesis-related biochemical parameters, the hepatic hydroxyproline content, the pathological characteristics of the liver sections and the levels of hepatic α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA; by immunohistochemistry) were analyzed to assess effects of SF on hepatic fibrosis. In addition, hepatic RhoA, Rho-kinase and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) expression was examined by immunohistochemistry. Apoptosis in the SF-treated and SFxa0+xa0GGPP-treated rat primary hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) and a human stellate cell line (LX-2) was examined by flow cytometry. Intrahepatic resistance and responsiveness to the α1-adrenoceptor agonist, methoxamine, were investigated by inxa0situ liver perfusion. Treatment with SF did not affect fibrosis-related biochemical parameters or the hydroxyproline content; however, SF reduced the histological evidence of fibrosis and hepatocyte damage. The SF-treated rats had a significantly lower expression of α-SMA and Rho-kinase, as well as an increased hepatic eNOS content; however, SF did not affect RhoA expression. The SF-treated HSCs had a significantly increased apoptotic rate compared to the untreated rats. Following the addition of GGPP, the rate apoptotic rate decreased. SF reduced basal intrahepatic resistance and the responsiveness of hepatic vascular smooth muscle to methoxamine. Therefore, our data demonstrate that SF reduces fibrogenesis, decreases portal pressure in cirrhotic rats and inhibits the activation of the RhoA/Rho-kinase signaling pathway.