LEFTY2 alleviates hepatic stellate cell activation and liver fibrosis by regulating the TGF-β1/Smad3 pathway.Mol Immunol. 2020 10; 126:31-39.MI
Activated hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) are the major cell type involved in the deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM) during the development of hepatic fibrosis. In this study, we revealed that left-right determination factor 2 (LEFTY2), one of the proteins belonging to the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) protein superfamily, was remarkedly decreased in human hepatic fibrosis tissues and in a carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced liver fibrosis mouse model. In addition, TGF-β1 treatment markedly reduced the level of LEFTY2 in HSCs. Importantly, overexpression of LEFTY2 suppressed the activation and proliferation of HSCs. LEFTY2 inhibited the expression of TGF-β1-induced fibrosis-associated genes (α-SMA and COL1a1) in human (LX-2) and rat (HSC-T6) HSC cell lines in vitro. Mechanistically, we demonstrated, for the first time, the role of LEFTY2 in inhibiting TGF-β1/Smad3 signaling, suggesting that there is a mutual antagonism between LEFTY2 and TGF-β1/Smad3 signaling during liver fibrosis. Similarly, we observed that LEFTY2 has a negative effect on its downstream genes, including c-MYC, CDK4, and cyclin D1, in liver fibrosis. Collectively, our data strongly indicated that LEFTY2 plays an important role in controlling the proliferation and activation of HSCs in the progression of liver fibrosis and this could be a potential therapeutic target for its treatment.