Background: Liver fibrosis is associated with the activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs). Inhibition of HSCs activation is a strategy for alleviating hepatic fibrogenesis. CD73 is involved in liver disease development, while the mechanism remains unclear.
Objective: This study aimed to investigate the effect of CD73 targeting inhibition on liver fibrosis.
Methods: Intraperitoneal injection of CCl4 was used to induce liver fibrosis in mice models. Adenosine 5′-(α, β-methylene) diphosphate sodium salt (APCP) was used for CD73 blockade. The siRNA was used to induce CD73 knockdown in HSCs. LX2 and HSC-T6 were used to investigate the role of CD73 in HSCs activation in vitro.
Results: The results showed that APCP treatment could alleviate hepatic fibrosis. In fibrotic liver tissues, CD73 exhibited a positive correlation with markers of HSCs activation. Furthermore, APCP treatment and CD73 knockdown could inhibit HSCs (LX2 and HSC-T6) activation and proliferation. By using RNA sequencing of liver tissues from control, CCl4-mice, and APCP-treated mice, 851 genes that were significantly changed in CCl4 mice (vs. control) were reversed by APCP treatment. These genes were mainly enriched in cell division-associated biological processes. Moreover, we found that CD73 might be associated with autophagy in HSCs. In fibrotic liver tissues and HSCs, ATG5 and Beclin1 expression could be downregulated by CD73 knockdown and APCP treatment.
Conclusion: This study demonstrated the effects and mechanism of CD73 in HSCs activation and proliferation, which presents the therapeutical potential of CD73 blockage for liver fibrosis.
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