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Scientific reports

Inhibition of caspase-9 aggravates acute liver injury through suppression of cytoprotective autophagy.


PMID 27580936

Abstract

Acute liver disease is characterized by inflammation, oxidative stress and necrosis, which can greatly influence the long term clinical outcome and lead to liver failure or cancer. Here, we initially demonstrated the beneficial role of caspase-9-dependent autophagy in acute liver injury. Treatment with caspase-9 inhibitor z-LEHD-FMK in HepG2 cells, AML12 cells and C57BL/b6N mice exacerbated CCl4-induced acute hepatocellular damage, and also down-regulated autophagy markers expression levels, indicating that caspase-9 inhibition may aggravate acute liver damage by suppressing cytoprotective autophagy. CCl4 was used as an acute liver injury inducer which caused oxidative stress and apoptosis through up-regulation of HIF-1α, as well as triggered hepatic inflammation and necroptosis via TLR4/NF-κB pathway. Caspase-9 Thr125 site was firstly phosphorylated by ERK1/2 which subsequently activated the cytoprotective autophagy process to attenuate acute CCl4 injury. Caspase-9 inhibition further aggravated hepatic necroptosis through NF-κB expression, leading to increased pro-inflammatory mediators levels, suggesting a protective role of caspase-9-dependent autophagy in the inflammatory process as well as its possibility being a new therapeutic target for the treatment of acute liver injury.

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