Suppression of autophagy during liver regeneration impairs energy charge and hepatocyte senescence in mice


  • Potential conflicts of interest: Nothing to report.


Autophagy is a homeostatic mechanism that regulates protein and organelle turnover and uses the amino acids from degraded proteins to produce adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP). We investigated the activity of autophagy-associated pathways in liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy (PHx) in liver-specific autophagy-related gene 5 (Atg5) knockout (KO) mice. Liver regeneration was severely impaired by 70% PHx, with a reduction in postoperative mitosis, but a compensating increase in hepatocyte size. PHx induced intracellular adenosine triphosphate and β-oxidation reduction as well as injured cellular mitochondria. Furthermore, PHx in Atg5 KO mice enhanced hepatic accumulation of p62 and ubiquitinated proteins. These results indicated that reorganization of intracellular proteins and organelles during autophagy was impaired in the regenerating liver of these mice. Up-regulation of p21 was associated with hepatocyte senescence, senescence-associated β-galactosidase expression, irreversible growth arrest, and secretion of senescence-associated molecules, including interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-8. Conclusion: These findings indicate that autophagy plays a critical role in liver regeneration and in the preservation of cellular quality, preventing hepatocytes from becoming fully senescent and hypertrophic. (Hepatology 2014;60:290–300)