New role of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 in alcohol-induced liver injury


  • Gavin E Arteel

    1. Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and the James Graham Brown-Cancer Center, University of Louisville Health Sciences Center, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
    Search for more papers by this author

Associate Professor Gavin E Arteel, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Louisville Health Sciences Center, Louisville, KY 40292, USA. Email:


Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) is the main inhibitor of plasminogen activators, thereby playing a major role in fibrinolysis. Whereas hyperfibrinolysis is common in alcoholic cirrhosis, hypofibrinolysis (driven mostly by elevated levels of PAI-1) is common during the development of alcoholic liver disease (ALD). However, whether or not PAI-1 plays a causal role in the development of ALD has been unclear. The role of PAI-1 was therefore investigated in models of early (steatosis), intermediate (inflammation/necrosis) and late (fibrosis) stages of alcoholic liver disease. For example, hepatic steatosis caused by both acute and chronic ethanol was blunted by inhibiting PAI-1 activation. This effect of inhibiting PAI-1 appears to be mediated, at least in part, by an increase in very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) synthesis in the absence of PAI-1. The results from that study also indicated that PAI-1 plays a critical role in both acute and chronic hepatic inflammation. Lastly, knocking out PAI-1 potently protected against experimental hepatic fibrosis; the mechanism of this protective effect appears to be mediated predominantly by extracellular matrix (ECM) resolution by matrix metalloproteases, which are indirectly inhibited by PAI-1. In summary, targeting PAI-1 protects against all three stages of ALD in model systems. The mechanisms by which PAI-1 contributes to these disease stages appear to not only involve the ‘classical’ function of PAI-1 (i.e. in mediating fibrinolysis), but also other functions of this protein. These data support a role of PAI-1 in the initiation and progression of ALD, and suggest that PAI-1 may be a useful target for clinical therapy to halt or blunt disease progression.