Curcumin inhibits srebp-2 expression in activated hepatic stellate cells in vitro by reducing the activity of specificity protein-1.
Endocrinology. 2009 Dec;150(12):5384-94. Epub 2009 Oct 6. PMID: 19808779
Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri 63104, USA.
Elevated levels of cholesterol/low-density lipoprotein (LDL) are a risk factor for the development of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and its associated hepatic fibrosis. However, underlying mechanisms remain elusive. We previously reported that curcumin induced gene expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-gamma and stimulated its activity, leading to the inhibition of the activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), the major effector cells during hepatic fibrogenesis. We recently showed that curcumin suppressed gene expression of LDL receptor in activated HSCs in vitro by repressing gene expression of the transcription factor sterol regulatory element binding protein-2 (SREBP-2), leading to the reduction in the level of intracellular cholesterol in HSCs and to the attenuation of the stimulatory effects of LDL on HSCs activation. The current study aimed at exploring molecular mechanisms by which curcumin inhibits srebp-2 expression in HSCs. Promoter deletion assays, mutagenesis assays, and EMSAs localize a specificity protein-1 (SP-1) binding GC-box in the srebp-2 promoter, which is responsible for enhancing the promoter activity and responding to curcumin in HSCs. Curcumin suppresses gene expression of SP-1 and reduces its trans-activation activity, which are mediated by the activation of PPARgamma. The inhibitory effect of curcumin on SP-1 binding to the GC-box is confirmed by chromatin immuno-precipitation. In summary, our results demonstrate that curcumin inhibits srebp-2 expression in cultured HSCs by activating PPARgamma and reducing the SP-1 activity, leading to the repression of ldlr expression. These results provide novel insights into molecular mechanisms by which curcumin inhibits LDL-induced HSC activation.