Histone deacetylase inhibition suppresses the transforming growth factor β1–induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in hepatocytes


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.

  • This work was supported by the American Liver Foundation through a Liver Scholar Award grant, by a Guerrieri Clinician Scientist Award grant (Johns Hopkins University), and by the US Public Health Service through grant AA000626


Transforming growth factor β1 (TGFβ1) plays a crucial role in the induction of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in hepatocytes, which contributes to the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis. The inhibition of the TGFβ1 cascade suppresses EMT and the resultant fibrosis. In this study, we focus on EMT-induced fibrosis in hepatocytes and the epigenetic regulation of the type I collagen gene. Histone acetylation is an important, major epigenetic mechanism that modulates gene transcription. We evaluated the epigenetic regulation of type I collagen in alpha mouse liver 12 hepatocytes (an untransformed mouse cell line) that had undergone EMT after treatment with TGFβ1. The histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A (TSA) inhibited EMT; this was reflected by the preservation of epithelial markers and function (E-cadherin and albumin). Fibrosis, the ultimate outcome of EMT, was abolished by TSA; this was indicated by the inhibition of type I collagen deposition. TSA exerted its anti-EMT effects by deactivating the mothers against decapentaplegic homolog 3 (Smad3)/Smad4 transcription complex and by interfering with p300, a coactivator of the type I collagen promoter, and preventing its binding to Smad3. TSA also restored Friend leukemia virus integration 1, an inhibitor of the type I collagen gene. TGFβ1-induced EMT and its inhibition by TSA were replicated in human primary hepatocytes. Conclusion: Histone deacetylase inhibition abrogates TGFβ1-induced EMT in hepatocytes and reverses EMT-induced fibrosis by epigenetic modulation of type I collagen. (HEPATOLOGY 2010)