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JQ-1 ameliorates schistosomiasis liver fibrosis by suppressing JAK2 and STAT3 activation

By Han Ding, Jiaming Tian, Xuhan Yang, Yongsheng Ji, Saeed El-Ashram, Xin Hou, Cuiping Ren, Jijia Shen, Fengchun Liu

Posted 04 Aug 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.08.04.235812

Schistosomiasis is a serious parasitic infection caused by Schistosoma . The parasite deposits eggs in the host liver, causing inflammation that activates hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), which leads to liver fibrosis. Currently, there is no effective therapy for liver fibrosis; thus, treatments are urgently needed. Therefore, in the present study, mice infected with Schistosoma japonicum were treated with JQ-1, a small-molecule bromodomain inhibitor with reliable anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory activities. The fibrotic area of the liver measured by computer-assisted morphometric analysis and the expression levels of the cytoskeletal protein alpha smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) and of collagen assessed by quantitative PCR and immunohistochemistry were significantly decreased in the liver following JQ-1 treatment compared with vehicle-treated controls. Total RNA was extracted from the liver of JQ-1–treated Schistosoma- infected mice for RNA- sequencing analysis. Gene ontology and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes analyses indicated that JQ-1 affected biological processes and the expression of cellular components known to play key roles in HSC transdifferentiation into myofibroblasts. In vitro treatment with JQ-1 of JS-1 cells, a mouse HSC line, indicated that JQ-1 significantly inhibited JS-1 proliferation but had no effect on JS-1 activity, senescence, or apoptosis. Western blot results showed that JQ-1 inhibited the expression of phosphorylated JAK2 and phosphorylated STAT3 without altering expression levels of these non-phosphorylated proteins. Taken together, these findings suggested that JQ-1 treatment ameliorated S. japonicum egg–induced liver fibrosis, at least in part, by suppressing HSC activation and proliferation through the inhibition of JAK2/STAT3 signaling. These results lay a foundation for the development of novel approaches to treat and control liver fibrosis caused by S. japonicum .

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