The purinergic P2Y14 receptor links hepatocyte death to hepatic stellate cell activation and fibrogenesis in the liver

Sci Transl Med. 2022 Apr 6;14(639):eabe5795. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abe5795. Epub 2022 Apr 6.


Fibrosis contributes to ~45% of deaths in western countries. In chronic liver disease, fibrosis is a major factor determining outcomes, but efficient antifibrotic therapies are lacking. Although platelet-derived growth factor and transforming growth factor-β constitute key fibrogenic mediators, they do not account for the well-established link between cell death and fibrosis in the liver. Here, we hypothesized that damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) may link epithelial cell death to fibrogenesis in the injured liver. DAMP receptor screening identified purinergic receptor P2Y14 among several candidates as highly enriched in hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), the main fibrogenic cell type of the liver. Conversely, P2Y14 ligands uridine 5'-diphosphate (UDP)-glucose and UDP-galactose were enriched in hepatocytes and were released upon different modes of cell death. Accordingly, ligand-receptor interaction analysis that combined proteomic and single-cell RNA sequencing data revealed P2Y14 ligands and P2Y14 receptor as a link between dying cells and HSCs, respectively. Treatment with P2Y14 ligands or coculture with dying hepatocytes promoted HSC activation in a P2Y14-dependent manner. P2Y14 ligands activated extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and Yes-associated protein (YAP) signaling in HSCs, resulting in ERK-dependent HSC activation. Global and HSC-selective P2Y14 deficiency attenuated liver fibrosis in multiple mouse models of liver injury. Functional expression of P2Y14 was confirmed in healthy and diseased human liver and human HSCs. In conclusion, P2Y14 ligands and their receptor constitute a profibrogenic DAMP pathway that directly links cell death to fibrogenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / metabolism
  • Hepatic Stellate Cells* / metabolism
  • Hepatocytes* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver Cirrhosis / pathology
  • Mice
  • Proteomics
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2* / metabolism
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2Y* / metabolism
  • Single-Cell Analysis
  • Uridine Diphosphate / metabolism
  • YAP-Signaling Proteins


  • Ligands
  • P2Y14 receptor, human
  • P2ry14 protein, mouse
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2Y
  • YAP-Signaling Proteins
  • Uridine Diphosphate
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases