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Keywords:

  • Bupleurum scorzonerifolium;
  • hepatic stellate cell;
  • hepatocyte apoptosis;
  • kaerophyllin;
  • liver fibrosis;
  • migration;
  • phagocytosis

Abstract

Background: Hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), the key cell type for hepatic fibrosis, become activated and profibrogenic in the presence of hepatocyte apoptotic bodies (ABs). Bupleurum scorzonerifolium (BS), a widely used traditional Chinese herb for liver diseases, was fractionated, and the inhibitory effects of BS extracts on AB-induced HSC migration were screened. The activity-guided fractionation led to a lignan, kaerophyllin. In this study, the anti-fibrotic effects of kaerophyllin were studied in the presence of ABs.

Methods: LX-2 cells phagocytosing ultraviolet (UV)-induced HepG2 ABs were investigated by confocal microscopy and flow cytometry. AB-induced HSC activation was evaluated by immunoblotting and real-time PCR analyses. HSC migration was measured by wound-healing assays.

Results: HepG2 ABs induced LX-2 activation, with the production of collagen I and α-smooth muscle actin, upregulated profibrogenic gene transcriptions and increased NF-κB activity, cell migration and phagocytosis. Kaerophyllin from BS antagonized AB-induced HSC migration and activation.

Conclusions: Kaerophyllin inhibited AB-induced LX-2 activation and migration with downregulation of Akt/ERK phosphorylations and NF-κB activity. Our study suggests a novel platform for screening anti-fibrotic compounds with ABs.