Cell death & disease

Interaction between autophagy and senescence is required for dihydroartemisinin to alleviate liver fibrosis.

PMID 28617435


Autophagy and cellular senescence are stress responses essential for homeostasis. Therefore, they may represent new pharmacologic targets for drug development to treat diseases. In this study, we sought to evaluate the effect of dihydroartemisinin (DHA) on senescence of activated hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), and to further elucidate the underlying mechanisms. We found that DHA treatment induced the accumulation of senescent activated HSCs in rat fibrotic liver, and promoted the expression of senescence markers p53, p16, p21 and Hmga1 in cell model. Importantly, our study identified the transcription factor GATA6 as an upstream molecule in the facilitation of DHA-induced HSC senescence. GATA6 accumulation promoted DHA-induced p53 and p16 upregulation, and contributed to HSC senescence. By contrast, siRNA-mediated knockdown of GATA6 dramatically abolished DHA-induced upregulation of p53 and p16, and in turn inhibited HSC senescence. Interestingly, DHA also appeared to increase autophagosome generation and autophagic flux in activated HSCs, which was underlying mechanism for DHA-induced GATA6 accumulation. Autophagy depletion impaired GATA6 accumulation, while autophagy induction showed a synergistic effect with DHA. Attractively, p62 was found to act as a negative regulator of GATA6 accumulation. Treatment of cultured HSCs with various autophagy inhibitors, led to an inhibition of DHA-induced p62 degradation, and in turn, prevented DHA-induced GATA6 accumulation and HSC senescence. Overall, these results provide novel implications to reveal the molecular mechanism of DHA-induced senescence, by which points to the possibility of using DHA based proautophagic drugs for the treatment of liver fibrosis.