Publicaciones científicas

Hepatocyte dedifferentiation profiling in alcohol-related liver disease identifies CXCR4 as a driver of cell reprogramming

21-abr-2023 | Revista: Journal of Hepatology

Beatriz Aguilar-Bravo  1 , Silvia Ariño  1 , Delia Blaya  1 , Elisa Pose  2 , Raquel A Martinez García de la Torre  1 , María U Latasa  3 , Celia Martínez-Sánchez  4 , Laura Zanatto  1 , Laura Sererols-Viñas  1 , Paula Cantallops-Vilà  1 , Silvia Affo  1 , Mar Coll  5 , Xavier Thillen  1 , Laurent Dubuquoy  6 , Matías A Avila  7 , Josepmaria Argemi  7 , Arantza Lamas Paz  8 , Yulia A Nevzorova  8 , Francisco Javier Cubero  8 , Ramon Bataller  9 , Juan José Lozano  10 , Pere Ginès  11 , Philippe Mathurin  6 , Pau Sancho-Bru  12

Background and aims: Loss of hepatocyte identity is associated with impaired liver function in alcohol-related hepatitis (AH). In this context, hepatocyte dedifferentiation gives rise to cells with a hepatobiliary (HB) phenotype expressing biliary and hepatocytes markers and showing immature features. However, the mechanisms and the impact of hepatocyte dedifferentiation in liver disease are poorly understood.

Methods: HB cells and ductular reaction (DR) cells were quantified and microdissected from liver biopsies from patients with alcohol-related liver disease (ALD). Hepatocyte-specific overexpression or deletion of CXCR4, and CXCR4 pharmacological inhibition were assessed in mouse liver injury. Patient-derived and mouse organoids were generated to assess plasticity.

Results: Here we show that HB and DR cells are increased in patients with decompensated cirrhosis and AH, but only HB cells correlate with poor liver function and patients' outcome. Transcriptomic profiling of HB cells revealed the expression of biliary-specific genes and a mild reduction of hepatocyte metabolism. Functional analysis identified pathways involved in hepatocyte reprogramming, inflammation, stemness and cancer gene programs. CXCR4 pathway was highly enriched in HB cells, and correlated with disease severity and hepatocyte dedifferentiation. In vitro, CXCR4 was associated with biliary phenotype and loss of hepatocyte features. Liver overexpression of CXCR4 in chronic liver injury decreased hepatocyte specific gene expression profile and promoted liver injury. CXCR4 deletion or its pharmacological inhibition ameliorated hepatocyte dedifferentiation and reduced DR and fibrosis progression.

Conclusions: This study shows the association of hepatocyte dedifferentiation with disease progression and poor outcome in AH. Moreover, the transcriptomic profiling of HB cells revealed CXCR4 as a new driver of hepatocyte-to-biliary reprogramming and as a potential therapeutic target to halt hepatocyte dedifferentiation in AH.

Lay summary: Here we describe that hepatocyte dedifferentiation is associated with disease severity and a reduced synthetic capacity of the liver. Moreover, we identify the CXCR4 pathway as a driver of hepatocyte dedifferentiation and as a therapeutic target in alcohol-related hepatitis.

CITA DEL ARTÍCULO  J Hepatol. 2023 Apr 21;S0168-8278(23)00236-2.  doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2023.04.013