Differential induction of nuclear factor-κB and activator protein-1 activity after CD40 ligation is associated with primary human hepatocyte apoptosis or intrahepatic endothelial cell proliferation

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CD40, a tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily member, is up-regulated on intraheptatic endothelial cells (IHEC) and epithelial cells during inflammatory liver disease, and there is evidence that the functional outcome of CD40 ligation differs between cell types. Ligation of CD40 on cholangiocytes or hepatocytes results in induction of Fas-mediated apoptosis, whereas ligation of IHEC CD40 leads to enhanced chemokine secretion and adhesion molecule expression. We now report that differential activation of two transcription factors, nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) and activator protein-1 (AP-1), in primary human hepatocytes or IHEC, is associated with and may explain, in part, the different responses of these cell types to CD40 ligation. CD40 ligation induced a rise in NF-kappaB activity in hepatocytes,which peaked at 2 h and returned to baseline by 24 h; however, IHEC CD40 ligation resulted in a sustained up-regulation of NF-kappaB (>24 h). In hepatocytes, CD40 ligation led to sustained up-regulation of AP-1 activity >24 h associated with increased protein levels of RelA (p65), c-Jun, and c-Fos, whereas no induction of AP-1 activity was observed in IHECs. Analysis of mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphorylation (phospho-extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 and phospho-c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase 1/2) and expression of inhibitor kappaBalpha were entirely consistent, and thus confirmed the profiles of NF-kappaB and AP-1 signaling and the effects of the selective inhibitors assessed using electrophoretic mobility shift assay or Western immunoblotting. CD40 ligation resulted in induction of apoptosis in hepatocytes after 24 h, but on IHECs, CD40 ligation resulted in proliferation. Inhibition of (CD40-mediated) NF-kappaB activation prevented IHEC proliferation and led to induction of apoptosis. Selective extracellular signal-regulated kinase and c-Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase inhibitors reduced levels of apoptosis in (CD40-stimulated) hepatocytes by approximately 50%. We conclude that differential activation of these two transcription factors in response to CD40 ligation is associated with differences in cell fate. Transient activation of NF-kappaB and sustained AP-1 activation is associated with apoptosis in hepatocytes, whereas prolonged NF-kappaB activation and a lack of AP-1 activation in IHECs result in proliferation.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1334-1345
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Biology of the Cell
Issue number4
Early online date6 Feb 2003
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2003