Clinical data have provided evidence that schistosomiasis can promote hepatocellular carcinogenesis. c-Jun and STAT3 are critical regulators of liver cancer development and progression. The aim of the present study was to investigate the hepatocellular activation of c-Jun and STAT3 by Schistosoma mansoni infection. Expression and function of c-Jun and STAT3 as well as proliferation and DNA repair were analyzed by western blotting, electrophoretic mobility-shift assay, and immunohistochemistry in liver of S. mansoni-infected hamsters, Huh7 cells, primary hepatocytes, and human liver biopsies. Hepatocellular activation of c-Jun was demonstrated by nuclear translocation of c-Jun, enhanced phosphorylation (Ser73), and AP-1/DNA-binding in response to S. mansoni infection. Nuclear c-Jun staining pattern around lodged eggs without ambient immune reaction, and directionally from granuloma to the central veins, suggested that substances released from schistosome eggs were responsible for the observed effects. In addition, hepatocytes with c-Jun activation show cell activation and DNA double-strand breaks. These findings from the hamster model were confirmed by analyses of human biopsies from patients with schistosomiasis. Cell culture experiments finally demonstrated that activation of c-Jun and STAT3 as well as DNA repair were induced by an extract from schistosome eggs (soluble egg antigens) and culture supernatants of live schistosome egg (egg-conditioned medium), and in particular by IPSE/alpha-1, the major component secreted by live schistosome eggs. The permanent activation of hepatocellular carcinoma-associated proto-oncogenes such as c-Jun and associated transcription factors including STAT3 by substances released from tissue-trapped schistosome eggs may be important factors contributing to the development of liver cancer in S. mansoni-infected patients. Therefore, identification and therapeutic targeting of the underlying pathways is a useful strategy to prevent schistosomiasis-associated carcinogenesis.
© 2018 The Authors. Hepatology published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc., on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.