Background & aims: Chronic liver injury triggers complications such as liver fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which are associated with alterations in distinct signalling pathways. Of particular interest is the interaction between mechanisms controlled by IKKγ/NEMO, the regulatory IKK subunit, and Jnk activation for directing cell death and survival. In the present study, we aimed to define the relevance of Jnk in hepatocyte-specific NEMO knockout mice (NEMO(Δhepa)), a genetic model of chronic inflammatory liver injury.
Methods: We generated Jnk1(-/-)/NEMO(Δhepa) and Jnk2(-/-)/NEMO(Δhepa) mice by crossing NEMO(Δhepa) mice with Jnk1 and Jnk2 global deficient animals, respectively, and examined the progression of chronic liver disease. Moreover, we investigated the expression of Jnk during acute liver injury, evaluated the role of Jnk1 in bone marrow-derived cells, and analysed the expression of NEMO and p-JNK in human diseased-livers.
Results: Deletion of Jnk1 significantly aggravated the progression of liver disease, exacerbating apoptosis, compensatory proliferation and carcinogenesis in NEMO(Δhepa) mice. Conversely, Jnk2(-/-)/NEMO(Δhepa) displayed hepatic inflammation. By using bone marrow transfer, we observed that Jnk1 in haematopoietic cells had an impact on the progression of chronic liver disease in NEMO(Δhepa) livers. These findings are of clinical relevance since NEMO expression was downregulated in hepatocytes of patients with HCC whereas NEMO and p-JNK were expressed in a large amount of infiltrating cells.
Conclusions: A synergistic function of Jnk1 in haematopoietic cells and hepatocytes might be relevant for the development of chronic liver injury. These results elucidate the complex function of Jnk in chronic inflammatory liver disease.
Keywords: Apoptosis; HCC; IKKγ/NEMO; Jnk1; Jnk2; Necrosis.
Copyright © 2014 European Association for the Study of the Liver. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.