Free radical biology & medicine

Oxidative and ER stress-dependent ASK1 activation in steatotic hepatocytes and Kupffer cells sensitizes mice fatty liver to ischemia/reperfusion injury.

PMID 28739531


Steatosis intensifies hepatic ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury increasing hepatocyte damage and hepatic inflammation. This study evaluates if this process is associated to a differential response of steatotic hepatocytes (HP) and Kupffer cells (KC) to I/R injury and investigates the molecular mechanisms involved. Control or steatotic (treated with 50 μmol palmitic acid, PA) mouse HP or KC were exposed to hypoxia/reoxygenation (H/R). C57BL/6 mice fed 9 week with control or High Fat diet underwent to partial hepatic IR. PA increased H/R damage of HP and further activated the ASK1-JNK axis stimulated by ER stress during H/R. PA also induced the production of oxidant species (OS), and OS prevention nullified the capacity of PA to increase H/R damage and ASK1/JNK stimulation. ASK1 inhibition prevented JNK activation and entirely protected HP damage. In KC, PA directly activated ER stress, ASK1 and p38 MAPK and increased H/R damage. However, in contrast to HP, ASK1 inhibition further increased H/R damage by preventing p38 MAPK activation. In mice liver, steatosis induced the expression of activated ASK1 in only KC, whereas I/R exposure of steatotic liver activated ASK1 expression also in HP. "In vivo", ASK1 inhibition prevented ASK1, JNK and p38 MAPK activation and protected I/R damage and expression of inflammatory markers. Lipids-induced ASK1 stimulation differentially affects HP and KC by promoting cytotoxic or protective signals. ASK1 increases H/R damage of HP by stimulating JNK and protects KC activating p38MAPK. These data support the potentiality of the therapeutic employment of ASK1 inhibitors that can antagonize the damaging effects of I/R upon fatty liver surgery by the contextual reduction of HP death and of KC-mediated reactions.