GPR120 induces regulatory dendritic cells by inhibiting HK2-dependent glycolysis to alleviate fulminant hepatic failure

Cell Death Dis. 2021 Dec 16;13(1):1. doi: 10.1038/s41419-021-04394-0.


Fulminant hepatic failure (FHF) is a potentially fatal liver disease that is associated with intrahepatic infiltration of inflammatory cells. As the receptor of polyunsaturated long chain fatty acids, GPR120 can regulate cell differentiation, proliferation, metabolism, and immune response. However, whether GPR120 is involved in FHF remains unknown. Using Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes)-primed, LPS-induced FHF in mice, we found that interference with GPR120 activity using pharmacological agonist attenuated the severity of the liver injury and mortality of FHF in mice, while a lack of GPR120 exacerbated the disease. GPR120 activation potently alleviated FHF and led to decreased T helper (Th) 1 cell response and expansion of regulatory T cells (Tregs). Interestingly, GPR120 agonist didn't directly target T cells, but dramatically induced a distinct population of CD11c+MHC IIlowCD80lowCD86low regulatory DCs in the livers of FHF mice. GPR120 was found to restrict HIF-1α-dependent glycolysis. The augmented HIF-1α stabilization caused by GPR120 antagonism or deletion could be attenuated by the inhibition of ERK or by the activation of AMPK. Through the analysis of the clinical FHF, we further confirmed the activation of GPR120 was negatively associated with the severity in patients. Our findings indicated that GPR120 activation has therapeutic potential in FHF. Strategies to target GPR120 using agonists or free fatty acids (FFAs) may represent a novel approach to FHF treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Glycolysis
  • Humans
  • Liver Failure, Acute / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*


  • FFAR4 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled