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International Journal of Hepatology
Volume 2012, Article ID 459278, 11 pages
Research Article

Alcohol Activates TGF-Beta but Inhibits BMP Receptor-Mediated Smad Signaling and Smad4 Binding to Hepcidin Promoter in the Liver

Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center, 95820 UNMC, Omaha, NE 68198-5820, USA

Received 28 May 2011; Accepted 7 August 2011

Academic Editor: Angela Dolganiuc

Copyright © 2012 Lisa Nicole Gerjevic 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.


Hepcidin, a key regulator of iron metabolism, is activated by bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs). Mice pair-fed with regular and ethanol-containing L. De Carli diets were employed to study the effect of alcohol on BMP signaling and hepcidin transcription in the liver. Alcohol induced steatosis and TGF-beta expression. Liver BMP2, but not BMP4 or BMP6, expression was significantly elevated. Despite increased BMP expression, the BMP receptor, and transcription factors, Smad1 and Smad5, were not activated. In contrast, alcohol stimulated Smad2 phosphorylation. However, Smad4 DNA-binding activity and the binding of Smad4 to hepcidin promoter were attenuated. In summary, alcohol stimulates TGF-beta and BMP2 expression, and Smad2 phosphorylation but inhibits BMP receptor, and Smad1 and Smad5 activation. Smad signaling pathway in the liver may therefore be involved in the regulation of hepcidin transcription and iron metabolism by alcohol. These findings may help to further understand the mechanisms of alcohol and iron-induced liver injury.