Activation of Autophagy by Everolimus Confers Hepatoprotection Against Ischemia–Reperfusion Injury

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As the criteria for liver donation have been extended to include marginal donors, liver grafts are becoming particularly vulnerable to hepatic ischemia–reperfusion injury (IRI). However, no specific measures have been validated to ameliorate hepatic IRI. In this article, we explored whether everolimus has protective effects against hepatic IRI in relation with autophagy. The effects of everolimus were investigated in bothin vitroandin vivohepatic IRI models. Mouse hepatocyte AML12 cells and BALB/c mice were utilized for the establishment of each model. In the IRI-induced AML12 cells, everolimus treatment increased the expressions of autophagic markers (microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 and p62) and decreased pro-apoptotic proteins (cleaved caspase 3 and cleaved poly-ADP ribose polymerase). The blockage of autophagy, using either bafilomycin A1 or si-autophagy-related protein 5, abrogated these anti-apoptosis effects of everolimus. Subsequently, everolimus administration to the hepatic IRI-induced mice provided hepatoprotective effects in terms of (1) decreasing the expressions of pro-apoptotic proteins, (2) inhibiting the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α), (3) reducing elevated liver enzymes (aspartate transaminase, alanine transaminase, and ammonia), and (4) restoring liver histopathology. These findings suggest that everolimus protects the liver against hepatic IRI by way of activating autophagy, and thus could be a potential therapeutic agent for hepatic IRI.

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