Antiviral therapy reduces hepatocellular carcinoma through suppressing hepatitis B virus replication may improve ER stress, mitochondrial and metabolic dysfunctions and decrease p62 in hybridized mice with single HBV transgene and miR-122

Yuh Jin Liang, Yu Wei Chiou, Abby Pei Ting Chiu, Ming Shi Shiao, Wei Teng, Chin Wei Lin, Mei Ling Cheng, Yen Hua Huang, Kung Hao Liang, Chien Wei Su, Chi Yu Lai, Chih Li Chen, Jaw Ching Wu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) hijacks autophagy for its replication. Nucleos(t)ide analogs (NUCs) treatment suppressed HBV replication and reduced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) incidence. However, the use of NUCs in chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients with normal or minimally elevated serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels is still debated. Animal models are crucial for studying the unanswered issue and evaluating new therapies. MicroRNA-122 (miR-122), which regulates fatty acid and cholesterol metabolism, is downregulated during hepatitis and HCC progression. The reciprocal inhibition of miR-122 with HBV highlights its role in HCC development as a tumor suppressor. By crossbreeding HBV-transgenic mice with miR-122 knockout mice, we generated a hybrid mouse model with a high incidence of HCC up to 89% and normal ALT levels before HCC. The model exhibited early-onset hepatic steatosis, progressive liver fibrosis, and impaired late-phase autophagy. Metabolomics and microarray analysis identified metabolic signatures, including dysregulation of lipid metabolism, inflammation, genomic instability, the Warburg effect, reduced TCA cycle flux, energy deficiency, and impaired free radical scavenging. Antiviral treatment reduced HCC incidence in hybrid mice by approximately 30–35% compared to untreated mice. This effect was linked to the activation of ER stress-responsive transcription factor ATF4, clearance of autophagosome cargo p62, and suppression of the CHOP-mediated apoptosis pathway. In summary, this study suggests that despite minimal ALT elevation, HBV replication can lead to liver injury. Endoplasmic reticulum stress, reduced miR-122 levels, mitochondrial and metabolic dysfunctions, blocking protective autophagy resulting in p62 accumulation, apoptosis, fibrosis, and HCC. Antiviral may improve the above-mentioned pathogenesis through HBV suppression.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere29325
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Volume95
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Keywords

  • autophagy
  • endoplasmic reticulum stress
  • metabolic dysregulation
  • miR-122
  • mitochondrial dysfunction

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