Honokiol activates the LKB1-AMPK signaling pathway and attenuates the lipid accumulation in hepatocytes

Min Suk Seo, Jung Hwan Kim, Hye Jung Kim, Ki Churl Chang, Sang Won Park
Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 2015 April 15, 284 (2): 113-24
Honokiol is a bioactive neolignan compound isolated from the species of Magnolia. This study was designed to elucidate the cellular mechanism by which honokiol alleviates the development of non-alcoholic steatosis. HepG2 cells were treated with honokiol for 1h, and then exposed to 1mM free fatty acid (FFA) for 24h to simulate non-alcoholic steatosis in vitro. C57BL/6 mice were fed with a high-fat diet for 28days, and honokiol (10mg/kg/day) was daily treated. Honokiol concentration-dependently attenuated intracellular fat overloading and triglyceride (TG) accumulation in FFA-exposed HepG2 cells. These effects were blocked by pretreatment with an AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) inhibitor. Honokiol significantly inhibited sterol regulatory element-binding protein-1c (SREBP-1c) maturation and the induction of lipogenic proteins, stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 (SCD-1) and fatty acid synthase (FAS) in FFA-exposed HepG2 cells, but these effects were blocked by pretreatment of an AMPK inhibitor. Honokiol induced AMPK phosphorylation and subsequent acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) phosphorylation, which were inhibited by genetic deletion of liver kinase B1 (LKB1). Honokiol stimulated LKB1 phosphorylation, and genetic deletion of LKB1 blocked the effect of honokiol on SREBP-1c maturation and the induction of SCD-1 and FAS proteins in FFA-exposed HepG2 cells. Honokiol attenuated the increases in hepatic TG and lipogenic protein levels and fat accumulation in the mice fed with high-fat diet, while significantly induced LKB1 and AMPK phosphorylation. Taken together, our findings suggest that honokiol has an anti-lipogenic effect in hepatocytes, and this effect may be mediated by the LKB1-AMPK signaling pathway, which induces ACC phosphorylation and inhibits SREBP-1c maturation in hepatocytes.

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