PloS one

Homocysteine inhibits hepatocyte proliferation via endoplasmic reticulum stress.

PMID 23349842


Homocysteine is an independent risk factor for coronary, cerebral, and peripheral vascular diseases. Recent studies have shown that levels of homocysteine are elevated in patients with impaired hepatic function, but the precise role of homocysteine in the development of hepatic dysfunction is unclear. In this study, we examined the effect of homocysteine on hepatocyte proliferation in vitro. Our results demonstrated that homocysteine inhibited hepatocyte proliferation by up-regulating protein levels of p53 as well as mRNA and protein levels of p21(Cip1) in primary cultured hepatocytes. Homocysteine induced cell growth arrest in p53-positive hepatocarcinoma cell line HepG2, but not in p53-null hepatocarcinoma cell line Hep3B. A p53 inhibitor pifithrin-α inhibited the expression of p21(Cip1) and attenuated homocysteine-induced cell growth arrest. Homocysteine induced TRB3 expression via endoplasmic reticulum stress pathway, resulting in Akt dephosphorylation. Knock-down of endogenous TRB3 significantly suppressed the inhibitory effect of homocysteine on cell proliferation and the phosphorylation of Akt. LiCl reversed homocysteine-mediated cell growth arrest by inhibiting TRB3-mediated Akt dephosphorylation. These results demonstrate that both TRB3 and p21(Cip1) are critical molecules in the homocysteine signaling cascade and provide a mechanistic explanation for impairment of liver regeneration in hyperhomocysteinemia.