Image_1_Short-Chain Fatty Acids Alleviate Hepatocyte Apoptosis Induced by Gut-Derived Protein-Bound Uremic Toxins.TIF
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is characterized with the influx of uremic toxins, which impairs the gut microbiome by decreasing beneficial bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and increasing harmful bacteria that produce gut-derived protein-bound uremic toxins (PBUTs). This study aimed to assess the proapoptotic effects of three major gut-derived PBUTs in hepatocytes, and the effects of SCFAs on apoptosis phenotype in vitro. HepG2 (human liver carcinoma cells) and THLE-2 (immortalized human normal liver cells) cell line were incubated with 0, 2, 20, 200, 2000 μM p-cresol sulfate (PCS), indoxyl sulfate (IS), and hippuric acid (HA), respectively, for 24 h. Flow cytometry analysis indicated that three uremic toxins induced varying degrees of apoptosis in hepatocytes and HA represented the highest efficacy. These phenotypes were further confirmed by western blot of apoptosis protein expression [Caspase-3, Caspase-9, B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2), and Bcl-2-associated X protein (Bax)]. Human normal hepatocytes (THLE-2) are more sensitive to PBUTs-induced apoptosis compared with human hepatoma cells (HepG2). Mechanistically, extracellular HA could enter hepatocytes, increase reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, and decrease mitochondrial membrane potential dose-dependently in THLE-2 cells. Notably, coculture with SCFAs (acetate, propionate, butyrate) for 24 h significantly improved HA-induced apoptosis in THLE-2 cells, and propionate (500 μM) represented the highest efficacy. Propionate reduction of apoptosis was associated with improving mitochondria dysfunction and oxidative stress in a manner involving reducing Caspase-3 expression, ROS production, and increasing the Bcl-2/Bax level. As such, our studies validated PBUTs accumulation might be an important cause of liver dysfunction in patients with CKD, and supplementation of SCFAs might be a viable way to protect the liver for patients with CKD.