Immune-Responsive Gene 1/Itaconate Activates Nuclear Factor Erythroid 2–Related Factor 2 in Hepatocytes to Protect Against Liver Ischemia–Reperfusion Injury

Zhongjie Yi, Meihong Deng, Melanie J. Scott, Guang Fu, Patricia A. Loughran, Zhao Lei, Shilai Li, Ping Sun, Chenxuan Yang, Wenbo Li, Hongbo Xu, Feizhou Huang*, Timothy R. Billiar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background and Aims: Itaconate, a metabolite of the tricarboxylic acid cycle, plays anti-inflammatory roles in macrophages during endotoxemia. The mechanisms underlying its anti-inflammatory roles have been shown to be mediated by the modulation of oxidative stress, an important mechanism of hepatic ischemia–reperfusion (I/R) injury. However, the role of itaconate in liver I/R injury is unknown. Approach and Results: We found that deletion of immune-responsive gene 1 (IRG1), encoding for the enzyme producing itaconate, exacerbated liver injury and systemic inflammation. Furthermore, bone marrow adoptive transfer experiments indicated that deletion of IRG1 in both hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic compartments contributes to the protection mediated by IRG1 after I/R. Interestingly, the expression of IRG1 was up-regulated in hepatocytes after I/R and hypoxia/reoxygenation-induced oxidative stress. Modulation of the IRG1 expression levels in hepatocytes regulated hepatocyte cell death. Importantly, addition of 4-octyl itaconate significantly improved liver injury and hepatocyte cell death after I/R. Furthermore, our data indicated that nuclear factor erythroid 2–related factor 2 (Nrf2) is required for the protective effect of IRG1 on mouse and human hepatocytes against oxidative stress–induced injury. Our studies document the important role of IRG1 in the acute setting of sterile injury induced by I/R. Specifically, we provide evidence that the IRG1/itaconate pathway activates Nrf2-mediated antioxidative response in hepatocytes to protect liver from I/R injury. Conclusions: Our data expand on the importance of IRG1/itaconate in nonimmune cells and identify itaconate as a potential therapeutic strategy for this unfavorable postsurgical complication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1394-1411
Number of pages18
JournalHepatology
Volume72
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes

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