Lipopolysaccharide-induced decreased protein S expression in liver cells is mediated by MEK/ERK signaling and NFκB activation: involvement of membrane-bound CD14 and toll-like receptor-4

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The vitamin K-dependent protein S (PS), mainly synthesized in hepatocytes and endothelial cells, plays a critical role in the anticoagulant activity of plasma. The decreased plasma level of PS in sepsis is associated with thrombotic tendency, but the mechanism is unclear.


In the present study, we examined the effect of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) on PS expression in vivo in rat liver, and in vitro in isolated hepatocytes and sinusoidal endothelial cells (SECs) from normal rats.


LPS induced a progressive decrease of plasma PS antigen level up to 12 h with a slight recovery at 24 h, and a transient decrease of liver PS mRNA level at 4–8 h with a complete recovery at 24 h. In the in vitro studies, LPS decreased PS antigen and mRNA levels in both hepatocytes and SECs. After LPS treatment, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) transiently increased in plasma. IL-6 increased the protein expression of PS from hepatocytes, while TNF-α decreased it from SECs. LPS increased CD14 in hepatocytes and decreased it in SECs, but did not affect toll-like receptor-4 (TLR-4) expression in both cells. Antirat CD14 and antirat TLR-4 antibodies inhibited LPS-induced NFκB activation, and a NFκB inhibitor suppressed LPS-induced decreased PS expression in both cells. Furthermore, MEK inhibitor blocked LPS-induced decreased PS expression in both cells.


These findings suggest that LPS-induced decreased PS expression in hepatocytes and SECs is mediated by MEK/ERK signaling and NFκB activation and that membrane-bound CD14 and TLR-4 are involved in this mechanism. These findings may explain in part the decreased level of plasma PS and thrombotic tendency in sepsis.

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