Basic Study Obeticholic acid attenuates human immunodeficiency virus/alcohol metabolism-induced pro-fibrotic activation in liver cells

Moses New-Aaron, Murali Ganesan, Raghubendra Singh Dagur, Kusum K. Kharbanda, Larisa Y. Poluektova, Natalia A. Osna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND The morbidity and mortality of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infection is often associated with liver disease, which progresses slowly into severe liver dysfunction. There are multiple insults which exacerbate HIV-related liver injury, including HIV-associated dysregulation of lipid metabolism and fat turnover, co-infections with hepatotropic viruses and alcohol abuse. As we reported before, exposure of hepatocytes to HIV and alcohol metabolites causes high oxidative stress, impairs proteasomal and lysosomal functions leading to accumulation of HIV in these cells, which end-ups with apoptotic cell death and finally promotes development of liver fibrosis. AIM To study whether obeticholic acid (OCA) prevents HIV/ethanol metabolism-induced hepatotoxicity and subsequent activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSC) by HIV+ apoptotic hepatocyte engulfment. METHODS Huh7.5-CYP (RLW) cells were exposed to HIV and acetaldehyde-generating system (AGS) in the presence or absence of OCA. In the cells, we measured the expression of HIV-related markers: HIVgagRNA-by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), p24- by western blot, HIV DNA-by semi-nested PCR, integrated HIV DNA-by ddPCR. Lysosomal and proteasomal activities were measured using fluorometrically-labeled substrates. For hepatocyte apoptosis, cleaved caspase 3 and cleaved PARP were visualized by western blot and cytokeratin 18- by M30 ELISA-in supernatants. Apoptotic bodies were generated from untreated and HIV-treated RLW cells exposed to UV light. Pro-fibrotic activation of HSC was characterized by Col1A1 and transforming growth factor-β mRNAs, while inflammasome activation- by NLRP3, caspase 1, interleukin (IL)-6, IL-1β mRNA levels. RESULTS In RLW cells, OCA treatment attenuated HIV-AGS-induced accumulation of HIVgagRNA, HIV DNA and p24. OCA suppressed reactive oxygen species production and restored chymotrypsin-like proteasome activity as well as cathepsin B lysosome activity. OCA also decreased HIV-AGS-triggered apoptosis in RLW cells. Exposure of HIV-containing apoptotic hepatocytes to HSC prevented activation of inflammasome and induced pro-fibrotic activation in these cells. CONCLUSION We conclude that by suppressing oxidative stress and restoring proteasomal and lysosomal functions impaired by HIV and ethanol metabolism, OCA decreases accumulation of HIV in hepatocytes, leading to down-regulation of apoptosis in these cells. In addition, OCA reverses pro-fibrotic and inflammasome-related activation of HSC triggered by engulfment of HIV-containing apoptotic hepatocytes, potentially contributing to suppression of liver fibrosis development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)965-975
Number of pages11
JournalWorld Journal of Hepatology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 27 2020


  • Alcohol
  • Fibrosis
  • Hepatocytes
  • Human immunodeficiency virus
  • Liver
  • Obeticholic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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