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High-mobility group box 1 induces endoplasmic reticulum stress and activates hepatic stellate cells

Laboratory Investigationvolume 98pages12001210 (2018) | Download Citation

  • A Correction to this article was published on 31 October 2018


Liver fibrosis is a worldwide clinical issue. The activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) is the central event during the hepatic fibrotic response. However, the exact mechanisms related to HSC activation and the connection between hepatocytes and HSCs remain unclear. We elucidated the mechanism by which the nuclear-damage-associated molecular pattern molecule, high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) was released from the impaired hepatocytes and induced endoplasmic reticulum stress to activate HSCs. In this work, we demonstrated that HMGB1 can be released from hepatocytes and the released HMGB1 activates the HSCs via ER stress at the transcriptional level which was dependent on the activation of both the TLR4 and RAGE signaling pathways rather than the TLR2 signaling pathway. HMGB1 induction of proinflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-18 release was dependent on ER stress. In vivo, stable inhibition of HMGB1 suppressed liver fibrosis. These results suggest that under damage condition, HMGB1 can be secreted from injured hepatocytes and activates TLR4- and RAGE signaling pathways to induce ER stress which activates HSCs. Moreover, HMGB1 can produce multiple inflammatory mediators through ER stress, which, in turn, promote liver fibrosis.

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Change history

  • 31 October 2018

    Following publication of the original article, the authors noticed some errors in Figs. 1–3. The correct figures can be found in the correction.


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This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81472311, No. 81772607) and Science Foundation for The Excellent Youth of Tongji hospital (No: 2016YQ06).

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Author notes

  1. These authors contributed equally: Dean Tian, Wei Yan.


  1. Department of Gastroenterology, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China

    • Qin He
    • , Xiangming Ding
    • , Dongxiao Li
    • , Zi Wang
    • , Dean Tian
    •  & Wei Yan
  2. Department of Gastroenterology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China

    • Yu Fu


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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Dean Tian or Wei Yan.

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