The adipokine adiponectin has potent anti-fibrotic effects mediated via adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase: Novel target for fibrosis therapy

Feng Fang, Lei Liu, Yang Yang, Zenshiro Tamaki, Jun Wei, Roberta G. Marangoni, Swati Bhattacharyya, Ross S. Summer, Boping Ye, John Varga*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Scopus citations

Abstract

Introduction: Fibrosis in scleroderma is associated with collagen deposition and myofibroblast accumulation. Peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma (PPAR-γ), a master regulator of adipogenesis, inhibits profibrotic responses induced by transforming growth factor-ß (TGF-β), and its expression is impaired in scleroderma. The roles of adiponectin, a PPAR-γ regulated pleiotropic adipokine, in regulating the response of fibroblasts and in mediating the effects of PPAR-γ are unknown.Methods: Regulation of fibrotic gene expression and TGF-ß signaling by adiponectin and adenosine monophosphate protein-activated (AMP) kinase agonists were examined in normal fibroblasts in monolayer cultures and in three-dimensional skin equivalents. AdipoR1/2 expression on skin fibroblasts was determined by real-time quantitative PCR.Results: Adiponectin, an adipokine directly regulated by PPAR-γ, acts as a potent anti-fibrotic signal in normal and scleroderma fibroblasts that abrogates the stimulatory effects of diverse fibrotic stimuli and reduces elevated collagen gene expression in scleroderma fibroblasts. Adiponectin responses are mediated via AMP kinase, a fuel-sensing cellular enzyme that is necessary and sufficient for down-regulation of fibrotic genes by blocking canonical Smad signaling. Moreover, we demonstrate that endogenous adiponectin accounts, at least in part, for the anti-fibrotic effects exerted by ligands of PPAR-γ.Conclusions: These findings reveal a novel link between cellular energy metabolism and extracellular matrix homeostasis converging on AMP kinase. Since the levels of adiponectin as well as its receptor are impaired in scleroderma patients with progressive fibrosis, the present results suggest a potential role for defective adiponectin expression or function in progressive fibrogenesis in scleroderma and other chronic fibrosing conditions. Restoring the adiponectin signaling axis in fibroblasts might, therefore, represent a novel pharmacological approach to controlling fibrosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberR229
JournalArthritis Research and Therapy
Volume14
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 23 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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