Genetic or pharmacological reduction of cholangiocyte senescence improves inflammation and fibrosis in the Mdr2-/- mouse

Mohammed Alsuraih, Steven P. O'Hara, Julie E. Woodrum, Nicholas E. Pirius, Nicholas F. LaRusso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Cholangiocyte senescence is important in the pathogenesis of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). We found that CDKN2A (p16), a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor and mediator of senescence, was increased in cholangiocytes of patients with PSC and from a PSC mouse model (multidrug resistance 2; Mdr2-/-). Given that recent data suggest that a reduction of senescent cells is beneficial in different diseases, we hypothesised that inhibition of cholangiocyte senescence would ameliorate disease in Mdr2-/- mice. Methods: We used 2 novel genetic murine models to reduce cholangiocyte senescence: (i) p16Ink4a apoptosis through targeted activation of caspase (INK-ATTAC)xMdr2-/-, in which the dimerizing molecule AP20187 promotes selective apoptotic removal of p16-expressing cells; and (ii) mice deficient in both p16 and Mdr2. Mdr2-/- mice were also treated with fisetin, a flavonoid molecule that selectively kills senescent cells. p16, p21, and inflammatory markers (tumour necrosis factor [TNF]-α, IL-1β, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 [MCP-1]) were measured by PCR, and hepatic fibrosis via a hydroxyproline assay and Sirius red staining. Results: AP20187 treatment reduced p16 and p21 expression by ~35% and ~70% (p >0.05), respectively. Expression of inflammatory markers (TNF-α, IL-1β, and MCP-1) decreased (by 60%, 40%, and 60%, respectively), and fibrosis was reduced by ~60% (p >0.05). Similarly, p16-/-xMdr2-/- mice exhibited reduced p21 expression (70%), decreased expression of TNF-α, IL-1β (60%), and MCP-1 (65%) and reduced fibrosis (~50%) (p >0.05) compared with Mdr2-/- mice. Fisetin treatment reduced expression of p16 and p21 (80% and 90%, respectively), TNF-α (50%), IL-1β (50%), MCP-1 (70%), and fibrosis (60%) (p >0.05). Conclusions: Our data support a pathophysiological role of cholangiocyte senescence in the progression of PSC, and that targeted removal of senescent cholangiocytes is a plausible therapeutic approach. Lay summary: Primary sclerosing cholangitis is a fibroinflammatory, incurable biliary disease. We previously reported that biliary epithelial cell senescence (cell-cycle arrest and hypersecretion of profibrotic molecules) is an important phenotype in primary sclerosing cholangitis. Herein, we demonstrate that reducing the number of senescent cholangiocytes leads to a reduction in the expression of inflammatory, fibrotic, and senescence markers associated with the disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100250
JournalJHEP Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Apoptosis resistance
  • Biliary epithelial cell
  • Cellular senescence
  • Cholestatic liver disease
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis
  • Senescence-associated secretory phenotype
  • Senolytics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Internal Medicine
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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