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Activation of Slit2-Robo1 signaling promotes liver fibrosis.

Journal of hepatology (2015-08-13)
Jianlan Chang, Tian Lan, Changzheng Li, Xiaoqian Ji, Lingyun Zheng, Hongju Gou, Yitao Ou, Teng Wu, Cuiling Qi, Qianqian Zhang, Jiangchao Li, Quliang Gu, Dingwen Wen, Liu Cao, Liang Qiao, Yanqing Ding, Lijing Wang
ABSTRACT

The secretory protein Slit2 and its receptor Robo1 are believed to regulate cell growth and migration. Here, we aimed to determine whether Slit2-Robo1 signaling mediates the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis. Serum levels of Slit2 in patients with liver fibrosis were determined by ELISA. Liver fibrosis was induced in wild-type (WT), Slit2 transgenic (Slit2-Tg) and Robo1(+/-)Robo2(+/-) double heterozygotes (Robo1/2(+/-)) mice by carbon tetrachloride (CCl4). The functional contributions of Slit2-Robo1 signaling in liver fibrosis and activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) were investigated using primary mouse HSCs and human HSC cell line LX-2. Significantly increased serum Slit2 levels and hepatic expression of Slit2 and Robo1 were observed in patients with liver fibrosis. Compared to WT mice, Slit2-Tg mice were much more vulnerable to CCl4-induced liver injury and more readily develop liver fibrosis. Development of hepatic fibrosis in Slit2-Tg mice was associated with a stronger hepatic expression of collagen I and α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA). However, liver injury and hepatic expression of collagen I and α-SMA were attenuated in CCl4-treated Robo1/2(+/-) mice in response to CCl4 exposure. In vitro, Robo1 neutralizing antibody R5 and Robo1 siRNA downregulated phosphorylation of Smad2, Smad3, PI3K, and AKT in HSCs independent of TGF-β1. R5 and Robo1 siRNA also inhibited the expression of α-SMA by HSCs. Finally, the protective effect of R5 on the CCl4-induced liver injury and fibrosis was further verified in mice. Slit2-Robo1 signaling promotes liver injury and fibrosis through activation of HSCs.

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