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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016, Article ID 7478650, 7 pages
Research Article

Modulation of Bcl-x Alternative Splicing Induces Apoptosis of Human Hepatic Stellate Cells

Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA

Received 15 March 2016; Revised 20 June 2016; Accepted 21 June 2016

Academic Editor: Antonio Mazzocca

Copyright © 2016 Lin Wu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Liver fibrosis is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide due to chronic viral hepatitis and, more recently, from fatty liver diseases. Activation and proliferation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) represent a key aspect of fibrogenesis and are associated with progressive reduction of HSC apoptosis. Bcl-x, an antiapoptotic member of Bcl-2 gene family, plays a role in apoptosis regulation in mammalian cells. Through alternative splicing, the Bcl-x gene yields two major protein isoforms with opposing functions, antiapoptotic Bcl- and proapoptotic Bcl-. This study aimed to investigate the role of Bcl-x and its alternate splicing in HSC apoptosis. The results indicated that the expression of Bcl- was dramatically higher than Bcl-2 in activated human HSCs. The relative expression of Bcl- over Bcl- increased gradually when HSCs were activated in cell culture, which was consistent with the increase in apoptosis resistance of activated HSCs. Redirection of Bcl-x splicing by an antisense oligonucleotide from the antiapoptotic isoform to the proapoptotic isoform induced death of HSCs without other apoptosis stimuli. We conclude that Bcl-x plays a role in regulation of HSC apoptosis and modulation of Bcl-x alternative splicing may become a novel molecular therapy for liver fibrosis.