Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) has been shown to modulate apoptosis. To evaluate the role of cAMP in bile acid-induced hepatocyte apoptosis, we studied the effect of agents that increase cAMP on the induction of apoptosis by glycochenodeoxycholate (GCDC) in cultured rat hepatocytes. GCDC induced apoptosis in 26.5%+/-1.1% of hepatocytes within 2 hours. Twenty-minute pretreatment of hepatocytes with 100 micromol/L 8-(4-chlorothiophenyl) cAMP (CP-cAMP) resulted in a reduction in the amount of apoptosis to 35.2%+/-3.8% of that seen in hepatocytes treated with GCDC alone. Other agents that increase intracellular cAMP, including dibutyryl cAMP (100 micromol/L), glucagon (200 nmol/L), and a combination of forskolin (20 micromol/L) and 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine (20 micromol/L), also inhibited GCDC-induced apoptosis to a similar extent. Pretreatment with the protein kinase A (PKA) inhibitor, KT5720, prevented the protective effect of CP-cAMP and inhibited CP-cAMP-induced activation of PKA activity. Inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K), wortmannin (50 nmol/L), or Ly 294002 (20 micromol/L) also prevented the cytoprotective effect of cAMP. PI3K assays confirmed that wortmannin (50 nmol/L) inhibited PI3K activity, while CP-cAMP had no effect on the activity of this lipid kinase. GCDC increased mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activity, but had no effect on stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK) activity in hepatocytes. cAMP decreased basal and GCDC-induced MAPK activity and increased SAPK activity. The MAPK kinase inhibitor, PD 98059, inhibited both GCDC-mediated MAPK activation and GCDC-induced apoptosis.
In conclusion: 1) agents that increase intracellular cAMP protect against hepatocyte apoptosis induced by hydrophobic bile acids; 2) activation of MAPK by GCDC may be involved in bile acid-induced apoptosis; and 3) cAMP-mediated cytoprotection against bile acid-induced apoptosis appears to involve PKA, MAPK, and PI3K.