Reticulon 4B (Nogo-B) is a novel regulator of hepatic fibrosis

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  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.

Abstract

Nogo-B, also known as Reticulon 4B, plays important roles in vascular injuries. Its function in the liver is not understood. The aim of this study was to characterize Nogo-B in liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. Nogo-B distribution was assessed in normal and cirrhotic human liver sections. We also determined the levels of liver fibrosis in wild-type (WT) and Nogo-A/B knockout (NGB KO) mice after sham operation or bile duct ligation (BDL). To investigate the mechanisms of Nogo-B's involvement in fibrosis, hepatic stellate cells were isolated from WT and NGB KO mice and transformed into myofibroblasts. Portal pressure was measured to test whether Nogo-B gene deletion could ameliorate portal hypertension. In normal livers, Nogo-B expression was found in nonparenchymal cells, whereas its expression in hepatocytes was minimal. Nogo-B staining was significantly elevated in cirrhotic livers. Fibrosis was significantly increased in WT mice 4 weeks after BDL compared with NGB KO mice. The absence of Nogo-B significantly reduced phosphorylation of Smad2 levels upon transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) stimulation. Reconstitution of the Nogo-B gene into NGB KO fibroblasts restored Smad2 phosphorylation. Four weeks after BDL, portal pressure was significantly increased in WT mice by 47%, compared with sham-operated controls (P = 0.03), whereas such an increase in portal pressure was not observed in NGB KO mice (P = NS). Conclusion: Nogo-B regulates liver fibrosis, at least in part, by facilitating the TGFβ/Smad2 signaling pathway in myofibroblasts. Because absence of Nogo-B ameliorates liver fibrosis and portal hypertension, Nogo-B blockade may be a potential therapeutic target in fibrosis/cirrhosis. (HEPATOLOGY 2011;)

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