Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research

GW501516-activated PPARβ/δ promotes liver fibrosis via p38-JNK MAPK-induced hepatic stellate cell proliferation

Radina Kostadinova12, Alexandra Montagner13, Erwan Gouranton1, Sébastien Fleury4, Hervé Guillou3, David Dombrowicz4, Pierre Desreumaux5 and Walter Wahli1*

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Integrative Genomics, National Research Center Frontiers in Genetics, University of Lausanne, Genopode Building, 1015, Lausanne, Switzerland

2 Present address: Hoffmann-La Roche AG, Grenzacherstrasse 124, 4070, Basel, Switzerland

3 INRA ToxAlim, Integrative Toxicology and Metabolism, UMR1331, 180, Chemin de Tournefeuille, BP 93173, 31027, Toulouse Cedex 3, France

4 Inserm U1011, Institut Pasteur de Lille, 1, University of Lille Nord, rue Prof. Calmette, BP245, 59019, Lille Cedex, France

5 Inserm U 995, Department of Gastroenterology CHU Lille, University of Lille Nord, 59019, Lille Cedex, France

For all author emails, please log on.

Cell & Bioscience 2012, 2:34  doi:10.1186/2045-3701-2-34

Published: 10 October 2012



After liver injury, the repair process comprises activation and proliferation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), which produce extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor beta/delta (PPARβ/δ) is highly expressed in these cells, but its function in liver repair remains incompletely understood. This study investigated whether activation of PPARβ/δ with the ligand GW501516 influenced the fibrotic response to injury from chronic carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) treatment in mice. Wild type and PPARβ/δ-null mice were treated with CCl4 alone or CCl4 co-administered with GW501516. To unveil mechanisms underlying the PPARβ/δ-dependent effects, we analyzed the proliferative response of human LX-2 HSCs to GW501516 in the presence or absence of PPARβ/δ.


We found that GW501516 treatment enhanced the fibrotic response. Compared to the other experimental groups, CCl4/GW501516-treated wild type mice exhibited increased expression of various profibrotic and pro-inflammatory genes, such as those involved in extracellular matrix deposition and macrophage recruitment. Importantly, compared to healthy liver, hepatic fibrotic tissues from alcoholic patients showed increased expression of several PPAR target genes, including phosphoinositide-dependent kinase-1, transforming growth factor beta-1, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1. GW501516 stimulated HSC proliferation that caused enhanced fibrotic and inflammatory responses, by increasing the phosphorylation of p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinases through the phosphoinositide-3 kinase/protein kinase-C alpha/beta mixed lineage kinase-3 pathway.


This study clarified the mechanism underlying GW501516-dependent promotion of hepatic repair by stimulating proliferation of HSCs via the p38 and JNK MAPK pathways.

Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor β/δ; Inflammation; Fibrosis; Signaling pathways; Proliferation