Disruption of transforming growth factor-beta signaling by curcumin induces gene expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma in rat hepatic stellate cells.Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2007 Jan; 292(1):G113-23.AJ
Activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSC), the major effectors of hepatic fibrogenesis, is coupled with sequential alterations in gene expression, including an increase in receptors for transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) and a dramatic reduction in the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPAR-gamma). The relationship between them remains obscure. We previously demonstrated that curcumin induced gene expression of PPAR-gamma in activated HSC, leading to reducing cell proliferation, inducing apoptosis and suppressing expression of extracellular matrix genes. The underlying molecular mechanisms are largely unknown. We recently observed that stimulation of PPAR-gamma activation suppressed gene expression of TGF-beta receptors in activated HSC, leading to the interruption of TGF-beta signaling. This observation supported our assumption of an antagonistic relationship between PPAR-gamma activation and TGF-beta signaling in HSC. In this study, we further hypothesize that TGF-beta signaling might negatively regulate gene expression of PPAR-gamma in activated HSC. The present report demonstrates that exogenous TGF-beta1 inhibits gene expression of PPAR-gamma in activated HSC, which is eliminated by the pretreatment with curcumin likely by interrupting TGF-beta signaling. Transfection assays further indicate that blocking TGF-beta signaling by dominant negative type II TGF-beta receptor increases the promoter activity of PPAR-gamma gene. Promoter deletion assays, site-directed mutageneses, and gel shift assays localize two Smad binding elements (SBEs) in the PPAR-gamma gene promoter, acting as curcumin response elements and negatively regulating the promoter activity in passaged HSC. The Smad3/4 protein complex specifically binds to the SBEs. Overexpression of Smad4 dose dependently eliminates the inhibitory effects of curcumin on the PPAR-gamma gene promoter and TGF-beta signaling. Taken together, these results demonstrate that the interruption of TGF-beta signaling by curcumin induces gene expression of PPAR-gamma in activated HSC in vitro. Our studies provide novel insights into the molecular mechanisms of curcumin in the induction of PPAR-gamma gene expression and in the inhibition of HSC activation.