NFkappaB-mediated upregulation of bcl-xl restrains TRAIL-mediated apoptosis in murine viral hepatitis

Lars Zender, Sebastian Hütker, Bettina Mundt, Morlen Waltemathe, Christian Klein, Christian Trautwein, Nisar P Malek, Michael Peter Manns, Florian Kühnel, Stefan Kubicka
Hepatology: Official Journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases 2005, 41 (2): 280-8
Inhibition of NFkappaB enhances the susceptibility of cancer to TRAIL-mediated apoptosis and is suggested as a strategy for cancer therapy. Because the role of NFkappaB in TRAIL-mediated apoptosis of hepatocytes is unknown, we investigated the influence of NFkappaB-inhibition in death ligand-mediated apoptosis in hepatitis. Adenoviral hepatitis resulted in upregulation of NFkappaB-activity, which could be inhibited by expression of IkappaBalpha-superrepressor. We treated mice after the onset of adenoviral hepatitis with adenoviruses expressing FasL (AdFasL), TRAIL (AdTRAIL), or GFP (AdGFP). In contrast to apoptosis induced by AdFasL, NFkappaB inhibition strongly enhanced AdTRAIL-mediated apoptosis of hepatocytes. Expression of IkappaBalpha inhibits adenoviral infection-mediated overexpression of bcl-xl, providing a molecular mechanism for TRAIL sensitization. In agreement with this hypothesis, downregulation of bcl-xl by siRNA enhanced susceptibility of hepatocytes to TRAIL, but not to FasL-mediated apoptosis, resulting in TRAIL-mediated severe liver damage after AdTRAIL application. Our data demonstrate that inhibition of NFkappaB in adenoviral hepatitis strongly sensitizes hepatocytes to TRAIL-mediated apoptosis. Bcl-xl, in contrast to bcl-2 and c-FLIP, is strongly upregulated after viral infection and represents an essential NFkappaB-dependent survival factor against TRAIL-mediated apoptosis. In conclusion, inhibition of NFkappaB or bcl-xl during TRAIL therapy may harbor a risk of liver damage in patients with viral hepatitis.

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