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Alcohol directly stimulates epigenetic modifications in hepatic stellate cells

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Agata Page, Dr Pier Paoli, Dr Stephen Hill, Rachel Howarth, Jeremy French, Steven White, Professor Derek Mann, Professor Jelena Mann


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Background & Aims: Alcohol is a primary cause of liver disease and an important co-morbidity factor in other causes of liver disease. A common feature of progressive liver disease is fibrosis, which results from the net deposition of fibril-forming extracellular matrix (ECM). The hepatic stellate cell (HSC) is widely considered to be the major cellular source of fibrotic ECM. We determined if HSCs are responsive to direct stimulation by alcohol.Methods: HSCs undergoing transdifferentiation were incubated with ethanol and expression of fibrogenic genes and epigenetic regulators was measured. Mechanisms responsible for recorded changes were investigated using ChIP-Seq and bioinformatics analysis. Ethanol induced changes were confirmed using HSCs isolated from a mouse alcohol model and from ALD patient's liver and through precision cut liver slices.Results: HSCs responded to ethanol exposure by increasing profibrogenic and ECM gene expression including elastin. Ethanol induced an altered expression of multiple epigenetic regulators, indicative of a potential to modulate chromatin structure during HSC transdifferentiation. MLL1, a histone 3 lysine 4 (H3K4) methyltransferase, was induced by ethanol and recruited to the elastin gene promoter where it was associated with enriched H3K4me3, a mark of active chromatin. Chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIPseq) revealed that ethanol has broad effects on the HSC epigenome and identified 41 gene loci at which both MML1 and its H3K4me3 mark were enriched in response to ethanol.Conclusions: Ethanol directly influences HSC transdifferentiation by stimulating global changes in chromatin structure, resulting in the increased expression of ECM proteins. The ability of alcohol to remodel the epigenome during HSC transdifferentiation provides mechanisms for it to act as a co-morbidity factor in liver disease. (C) 2014 European Association for the Study of the Liver. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Page A, Paoli PP, Hill SJ, Howarth R, Wu R, Kweon SM, French J, White S, Tsukamoto H, Mann DA, Mann J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Hepatology

Year: 2015

Volume: 62

Issue: 2

Pages: 388-397

Print publication date: 01/02/2015

Online publication date: 19/10/2014

Acceptance date: 29/09/2014

ISSN (print): 0168-8278

ISSN (electronic): 1600-0641

Publisher: Elesvier


DOI: 10.1016/j.jhep.2014.09.033

PubMed id: 25457206


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Funder referenceFunder name
Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre
Welcome Trust
Medical Research Council (MRC)
U01AA018663National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)