Anja Petrović 1 , Desanka Bogojević 1 , Aleksandra Korać 2 , Igor Golić 2 , Sofija Jovanović-Stojanov 1 , Vesna Martinović 1 , Svetlana Ivanović-Matić 1 , Jelena Stevanović 1 , Goran Poznanović 1 , Ilijana Grigorov 3
The progression of oxidative stress, resulting cell damage, and cell death underlies the etiology of liver damage/dysfunction as a complication of diabetes. High-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) protein, a chromatin-binding nuclear protein and damage-associated molecular pattern molecule, is integral to oxidative stress and signaling pathways regulating cell death and cell survival. We previously found that in streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats, reduction of oxidative stress after melatonin administration lowered necrotic cell death and increased expression of HMGB1 and hepatocellular damage. In the present study, we examined whether alleviation of diabetes-attendant oxidative stress and ensuing change in HMGB1 expression influence the dynamic equilibrium between apoptosis/autophagy and liver damage. We observed that elevated HMGB1 protein levels in diabetic rat liver accompanied increased interactions of HMGB1 with TLR4 and RAGE, and activation of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway and Beclin 1-dependent autophagy. The absence of p62 degradation in diabetic rat liver pointed to defective autophagy which was responsible for lower autophagosome/autophagolysosome formation and an increased apoptosis/autophagy ratio. Compared to diabetic rats, in melatonin-treated diabetic rats, the structure of liver cells was preserved, HMGB1/TLR4 interaction and downstream apoptotic signaling were significantly reduced, HMGB1/Beclin 1 colocalization and interactions were augmented and Beclin 1-mediated autophagy, mithophagy in particular, were increased. We concluded that in mild oxidative stress, HMGB1 is cytoprotective, whereas in intense oxidative stress, HMGB1 actions promote cell death and liver damage. Since reduced HMGB1 binds to RAGE but not to TLR4, redox modification of HMGB1 as a mechanism regulating the cross-talk between apoptosis and autophagy in diabetes is discussed.