My long term career objective is to define the mechanisms of liver inflammation in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The current proposal views this via a systems biology approach, focusing on defining the cross-talk between lipotoxic hepatocytes and proinflammatory macrophages at a cellular level; and the endoplasmic reticulum stress sensor Inositol Requiring Enzyme-1 alpha (IRE1?) and extracellular vesicle (EV) biogenesis at a sub-cellular level. Signals from injured hepatocytes serve to recruit macrophages to the liver, activate proinflammatory pathways in resident and recruited macrophages and thus set in motion an inflammation-injury feed-forward loop. In preliminary experiments we have observed that lipotoxic hepatocytes (treated with the toxic free fatty acid palmitate) release proinflammatory extracellular vesicles; these vesicles are released in an IRE1?-dependent manner; and are enriched in ceramides. Furthermore, the ceramide enrichment also occurs in an IRE1?-dependent manner. Our preliminary observations have led to the central hypothesis that IRE1? regulates palmitate-induced extracellular vesicle biogenesis and cargo, thereby leading to the release of proinflammatory extracellular vesicles, which in turn activate macrophages thus promoting NASH pathogenesis. Therefore, the goals of this proposal are to understand: i) how IRE1? mediates release of lipotoxic EVs; ii) what imparts specificity t lipotoxic EV cargo, and iii) how are lipotoxic EVs proinflammatory? The proposed experiments will employ complementary in vitro and in vivo models of lipotoxicity and NASH, respectively; and chemical, pharmacological, molecular and genetic approaches to address the specific aims to test the hypotheses that: i) IRE1? and the IRE1?-activated transcription factor, X- box bindin protein-1 (XBP-1) drive the release of lipotoxic hepatocyte EVs via increased biogenesis of ceramides, and ii) IRE1?-mediated ceramide transport is necessary for EV release, and iii) IRE1?-dependent proinflammatory EV release in vivo leads to macrophage recruitment and liver inflammation. To address these hypotheses the applicant has become adept at EV isolation and characterization, macrophage isolation, assays of macrophage activation and chemotaxis, transcriptional regulation, metabolomics by mass spectrometry and in vivo rodent models of conditional deletion of IRE1?. With funding through this R03 small grant program for K08 awardees the applicant hopes to gain additional preliminary data to propel this research proposal to an R01 proposal in the near future. This work represents a coherent and logical extension of the applicant's earlier work on endoplasmic reticulum stress in the pathogenesis of NASH and represents a significant step forward in independence from previous research mentors. The applicant has established a network consisting of Dr. Gregory J. Gores as her primary mentor, and Dr. Vijay Shah and Dr. Nicholas LaRusso as collaborators. Our results will yield mechanistic insights into the processes of macrophage activation and recruitment in NASH, thus identifying potentially druggable targets.

Public Health Relevance

Increasing obesity is resulting in an ever increasing number of people with fatty liver disease, fo which there are no good treatments. Progressive forms of fatty liver disease are characterized by liver inflammation. With the proposed research we will identify how liver cells release proinflammatory signals, and thus, identify pathways that can potentially be targeted therapeutically, to treat inflammation in fatty liver disease.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Small Research Grants (R03)
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Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases B Subcommittee (DDK)
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Saslowsky, David E
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Mayo Clinic, Rochester
United States
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Yang, Ju Dong; Malhi, Harmeet (2018) Green tea consumption: A potential chemopreventive measure for hepatocellular carcinoma? Hepatology 67:10-12
Bandla, Harikrishna; Dasgupta, Debanjali; Mauer, Amy S et al. (2018) Deletion of endoplasmic reticulum stress-responsive co-chaperone p58IPK protects mice from diet-induced steatohepatitis. Hepatol Res 48:479-494
Ibrahim, Samar H; Malhi, Harmeet (2018) A Molecular Signature of Mouse NASH: A Step Closer to a Human Predictive Biomarker? Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol 5:65-66
Malhi, Harmeet; Camilleri, Michael (2017) Modulating bile acid pathways and TGR5 receptors for treating liver and GI diseases. Curr Opin Pharmacol 37:80-86
Greuter, Thomas; Malhi, Harmeet; Gores, Gregory J et al. (2017) Therapeutic opportunities for alcoholic steatohepatitis and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis: exploiting similarities and differences in pathogenesis. JCI Insight 2:
Camilleri, Michael; Malhi, Harmeet; Acosta, Andres (2017) Gastrointestinal Complications of Obesity. Gastroenterology 152:1656-1670
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Hirsova, Petra; Ibrahim, Samar H; Verma, Vikas K et al. (2016) Extracellular vesicles in liver pathobiology: Small particles with big impact. Hepatology 64:2219-2233
Malhi, H; Loomba, R (2016) Editorial: dark chocolate may improve NAFLD and metabolic syndrome by reducing oxidative stress. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 44:533-4