Class II HDAC inhibition hampers hepatic stellate cell activation by induction of microRNA-29

PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e55786. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055786. Epub 2013 Jan 31.


Background: The conversion of a quiescent vitamin A storing hepatic stellate cell (HSC) to a matrix producing, contractile myofibroblast-like activated HSC is a key event in the onset of liver disease following injury of any aetiology. Previous studies have shown that class I histone deacetylases (HDACs) are involved in the phenotypical changes occurring during stellate cell activation in liver and pancreas.

Aims: In the current study we investigate the role of class II HDACs during HSC activation.

Methods: We characterized the expression of the class II HDACs freshly isolated mouse HSCs. We inhibited HDAC activity by selective pharmacological inhibition with MC1568, and by repressing class II HDAC gene expression using specific siRNAs.

Results: Inhibition of HDAC activity leads to a strong reduction of HSC activation markers α-SMA, lysyl oxidase and collagens as well as an inhibition of cell proliferation. Knock down experiments showed that HDAC4 contributes to HSC activation by regulating lysyl oxidase expression. In addition, we observed a strong up regulation of miR-29, a well-known anti-fibrotic miR, upon treatment with MC1568. Our in vivo work suggests that a successful inhibition of class II HDACs could be promising for development of future anti-fibrotic compounds.

Conclusions: In conclusion, the use of MC1568 has enabled us to identify a role for class II HDACs regulating miR-29 during HSC activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon Tetrachloride / adverse effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Hepatic Stellate Cells / drug effects*
  • Hepatic Stellate Cells / metabolism*
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Histone Deacetylases / genetics
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism*
  • Hydroxamic Acids / administration & dosage
  • Hydroxamic Acids / pharmacology
  • Liver / cytology
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Experimental / chemically induced
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Experimental / drug therapy
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Experimental / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Pyrroles / administration & dosage
  • Pyrroles / pharmacology
  • RNA Interference


  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Hydroxamic Acids
  • MC1568
  • MIRN29 microRNA, mouse
  • MicroRNAs
  • Pyrroles
  • Carbon Tetrachloride
  • Histone Deacetylases

Grant support

I. Mannaerts and L. A. van Grunsven are supported by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (GOA48, GOA78, OZR1930) and by the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders (FWO-V, (G.0260.09). K. Van Beneden is supported by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel through an Onderzoeksraad project (OZR1428 and OZR1796). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.