High Mobility Group Box-1 Drives Fibrosis Progression Signaling via the Receptor for Advanced Glycation End Products in Mice

Hepatology. 2018 Dec;68(6):2380-2404. doi: 10.1002/hep.30093. Epub 2018 Nov 13.


High-mobility group box-1 (HMGB1) is a damage-associated molecular pattern (DAMP) increased in response to liver injury. Because HMGB1 is a ligand for the receptor for advanced glycation endproducts (RAGE), we hypothesized that induction of HMGB1 could participate in the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis though RAGE cell-specific signaling mechanisms. Liver HMGB1 protein expression correlated with fibrosis stage in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), or alcoholic steatohepatitis (ASH). Hepatic HMGB1 protein expression and secretion increased in five mouse models of liver fibrosis attributed to drug-induced liver injury (DILI), cholestasis, ASH, or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). HMGB1 was up-regulated and secreted mostly by hepatocytes and Kupffer cells (KCs) following CCl4 treatment. Neutralization of HMGB1 protected, whereas injection of recombinant HMGB1 promoted liver fibrosis. Hmgb1 ablation in hepatocytes (Hmgb1ΔHep ) or in myeloid cells (Hmgb1ΔMye ) partially protected, whereas ablation in both (Hmgb1ΔHepΔMye ) prevented liver fibrosis in vivo. Coculture with hepatocytes or KCs from CCl4 -injected wild-type (WT) mice up-regulated Collagen type I production by hepatic stellate cells (HSCs); yet, coculture with hepatocytes from CCl4 -injected Hmgb1ΔHep or with KCs from CCl4 -injected Hmgb1ΔMye mice partially blunted this effect. Rage ablation in HSCs (RageΔHSC ) and RAGE neutralization prevented liver fibrosis. Last, we identified that HMGB1 stimulated HSC migration and signaled through RAGE to up-regulate Collagen type I expression by activating the phosphorylated mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (pMEK)1/2, phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (pERK)1/2 and pcJun signaling pathway. Conclusion: Hepatocyte and KC-derived HMGB1 participates in the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis by signaling through RAGE in HSCs to activate the pMEK1/2, pERK1/2 and pcJun pathway and increase Collagen type I deposition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon Tetrachloride Poisoning / metabolism
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Collagen Type I / metabolism*
  • HMGB1 Protein / metabolism*
  • Hepatic Stellate Cells / metabolism*
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kupffer Cells / metabolism
  • Liver Cirrhosis / etiology*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / metabolism
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System
  • Mice
  • Myeloid Cells / metabolism
  • Receptor for Advanced Glycation End Products / metabolism*


  • Collagen Type I
  • HMGB1 Protein
  • Receptor for Advanced Glycation End Products