The role of PTEN in regulation of hepatic macrophages activation and function in progression and reversal of liver fibrosis

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Abstract

Activation of Kupffer cells (KCs) plays a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis. The progression and reversal of CCl4-induced mouse liver fibrosis showed a mixed induction of hepatic classical (M1) and alternative (M2) macrophage markers. Although the role of phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) in modulating myeloid cell activation has recently been identified, its function in macrophage activation during hepatic fibrosis remains to be fully appreciated. In our study, PTEN expression of KCs was remarkably decreased in CCl4-induced mice but increased to a near-normal level in reversed mice. Moreover, PTEN was significantly decreased in IL4-induced RAW 264.7 cells in vitro and lower expression of PTEN was observed in M2 macrophages in vivo. In addition, loss- and gain-of-function studies suggested that PTEN regulates M2 macrophages polarization via activation of PI3K/Akt/STAT6 signaling, but had a limited effect on M1 macrophages polarization in vitro. Additionally, Ly294002, a chemical inhibitor of PI3K/Akt, could dramatically down-regulate the hallmarks of M2 macrophages. In conclusion, PTEN mediates macrophages activation by PI3K/Akt/STAT6 signaling pathway, which provides novel compelling evidences on the potential of PTEN in liver injury and opens new cellular target for the pharmacological therapy of liver fibrosis.

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