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      Angiotensin II induces connective tissue growth factor expression in human hepatic stellate cells by a transforming growth factor β-independent mechanism

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          Abstract

          Angiotensin II (Ang II) promotes hepatic fibrosis by increasing extracellular matrix (ECM) synthesis. Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of hepatic fibrosis and emerges as downstream of the profibrogenic cytokine transforming growth factor- β (TGF- β). We aimed to investigate the molecular events that lead from the Ang II receptor to CTGF upregulation in human hepatic stellate cells, a principal fibrogenic cell type. Ang II produced an early, AT 1 receptor-dependent stimulation of CTGF expression and induced a rapid activation of PKC and its downstream p38 MAPK, thereby activating a nuclear factor- κB (NF- κB) and Smad2/3 cross-talk pathway. Chemical blockade of NF- κB and Smad2/3 signaling synergistically diminished Ang II-mediated CTGF induction and exhibited an additive effect in abrogating the ECM accumulation caused by Ang II. Furthermore, we demonstrated that CTGF expression was essential for Ang II-mediated ECM synthesis. Interestingly, the ability of dephosphorylated, but not phosphorylated JNK to activate Smad2/3 signaling revealed a novel role of JNK in Ang II-mediated CTGF overexpression. These results suggest that Ang II induces CTGF expression and ECM accumulation through a special TGF- β-independent interaction between the NF- κB and Smad2/3 signals elicited by the AT 1/PKC α/p38 MAPK pathway.

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          Modern pathogenetic concepts of liver fibrosis suggest stellate cells and TGF-β as major players and therapeutic targets

          Hepatic fibrosis is a scarring process that is associated with an increased and altered deposition of extracellular matrix in liver. At the cellular and molecular level, this progressive process is mainly characterized by cellular activation of hepatic stellate cells and aberrant activity of transforming growth factor-β1 and its downstream cellular mediators. Although the cellular responses to this cytokine are complex, the signalling pathways of this pivotal cytokine during the fibrogenic response and its connection to other signal cascades are now understood in some detail. Based on the current advances in understanding the pleiotropic reactions during fibrogenesis, various inhibitors of transforming growth factor-β were developed and are now being investigated as potential drug candidates in experimental models of hepatic injury. Although it is too early to favour one of these antagonists for the treatment of hepatic fibrogenesis in human, the experimental results obtained yet provide stimulatory impulses for the development of an effective treatment of choice in the not too distant future. The present review summarises the actual knowledge on the pathogenesis of hepatic fibrogenesis, the role of transforming growth factor-β and its signalling pathways in promoting the fibrogenic response, and the therapeutic modalities that are presently in the spotlight of many investigations and are already on the way to take the plunge into clinical studies.
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            NADPH oxidase signal transduces angiotensin II in hepatic stellate cells and is critical in hepatic fibrosis.

            Angiotensin II (Ang II) is a pro-oxidant and fibrogenic cytokine. We investigated the role of NADPH oxidase in Ang II-induced effects in hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), a fibrogenic cell type. Human HSCs express mRNAs of key components of nonphagocytic NADPH oxidase. Ang II phosphorylated p47phox, a regulatory subunit of NADPH oxidase, and induced reactive oxygen species formation via NADPH oxidase activity. Ang II phosphorylated AKT and MAPKs and increased AP-1 DNA binding in a redox-sensitive manner. Ang II stimulated DNA synthesis, cell migration, procollagen alpha1(I) mRNA expression, and secretion of TGF-beta1 and inflammatory cytokines. These effects were attenuated by N-acetylcysteine and diphenylene iodonium, an NADPH oxidase inhibitor. Moreover, Ang II induced upregulation of genes potentially involved in hepatic wound-healing response in a redox-sensitive manner, as assessed by microarray analysis. HSCs isolated from p47phox-/- mice displayed a blunted response to Ang II compared with WT cells. We also assessed the role of NADPH oxidase in experimental liver fibrosis. After bile duct ligation, p47phox-/- mice showed attenuated liver injury and fibrosis compared with WT counterparts. Moreover, expression of smooth muscle alpha-actin and expression of TGF-beta1 were reduced in p47phox-/- mice. Thus, NADPH oxidase mediates the actions of Ang II on HSCs and plays a critical role in liver fibrogenesis.
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              Activated human hepatic stellate cells express the renin-angiotensin system and synthesize angiotensin II.

              The renin-angiotensin system plays an important role in hepatic fibrogenesis. In other organs, myofibroblasts accumulated in damaged tissues generate angiotensin II, which promotes inflammation and extracellular matrix synthesis. It is unknown whether myofibroblastic hepatic stellate cells, the main hepatic fibrogenic cell type, express the renin-angiotensin system and synthesize angiotensin II. The aim of this study was to investigate whether quiescent and activated human hepatic stellate cells contain the components of the renin-angiotensin system and synthesize angiotensin II. Hepatic stellate cells were freshly isolated from normal human livers (quiescent hepatic stellate cells) and from human cirrhotic livers (in vivo activated hepatic stellate cells). Culture-activated hepatic stellate cells were used after a second passage of quiescent hepatic stellate cells. Angiotensinogen, renin, and angiotensin-converting enzyme were assessed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Angiotensin II production was assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and immunohistochemistry. Quiescent hepatic stellate cells barely express the renin-angiotensin system components--angiotensinogen, renin, and angiotensin-converting enzyme--and do not secrete angiotensin II. In contrast, both in vivo activated hepatic stellate cells and culture-activated hepatic stellate cells highly express active renin and angiotensin-converting enzyme and secrete angiotensin II to the culture media. Mature angiotensin II protein is also detected in the cytoplasm of in vivo activated and culture-activated hepatic stellate cells. Growth factors (platelet-derived growth factor and epidermal growth factor) and vasoconstrictor substances (endothelin-1 and thrombin) stimulate angiotensin II synthesis, whereas transforming growth factor-beta and proinflammatory cytokines have no effect. Vasodilator substances markedly attenuate the effect of endothelin-1. After activation, human hepatic stellate cells express the components of the renin-angiotensin system and synthesize angiotensin II. These results suggest that locally generated angiotensin II could participate in tissue remodeling in the human liver.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                wangrx1022@163.com
                pli1978@hotmail.com
                Journal
                Sci Rep
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                2045-2322
                10 August 2017
                10 August 2017
                2017
                : 7
                : 7841
                Affiliations
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1777 9452, GRID grid.411594.c, , College of Pharmacy and Bioengineering, Chongqing University of Technology, ; Chongqing, 400054 China
                [2 ]State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine, Institute of Chinese Medical Sciences, University of Macau, Macau, 999078 China
                Author information
                http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5235-6311
                Article
                8334
                10.1038/s41598-017-08334-x
                5552744
                28798388
                5192dec7-6a3b-40bf-aeca-1038d6aa7dbe
                © The Author(s) 2017

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                History
                : 22 February 2017
                : 11 July 2017
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