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Activation of pancreatic stellate cells attenuates intracellular Ca 2+ signals due to downregulation of TRPA1 and protects against cell death induced by alcohol metabolites

Kusiak, Agnieszka A., Jakubowska, Monika A., Stopa, Kinga B., Zhang, Xiaoying, Huang, Wei, Gerasimenko, Julia V. ORCID:, Gerasimenko, Oleg V. ORCID:, Sutton, Robert, Petersen, Ole H. ORCID: and Ferdek, Pawel E. 2022. Activation of pancreatic stellate cells attenuates intracellular Ca 2+ signals due to downregulation of TRPA1 and protects against cell death induced by alcohol metabolites. Cell Death and Disease 13 (8) , 744. 10.1038/s41419-022-05186-w

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Alcohol abuse, an increasing problem in developed societies, is one of the leading causes of acute and chronic pancreatitis. Alcoholic pancreatitis is often associated with fibrosis mediated by activated pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs). Alcohol toxicity predominantly depends on its non-oxidative metabolites, fatty acid ethyl esters, generated from ethanol and fatty acids. Although the role of non-oxidative alcohol metabolites and dysregulated Ca2+ signalling in enzyme-storing pancreatic acinar cells is well established as the core mechanism of pancreatitis, signals in PSCs that trigger fibrogenesis are less clear. Here, we investigate real-time Ca2+ signalling, changes in mitochondrial potential and cell death induced by ethanol metabolites in quiescent vs TGF-β-activated PSCs, compare the expression of Ca2+ channels and pumps between the two phenotypes and the consequences these differences have on the pathogenesis of alcoholic pancreatitis. The extent of PSC activation in the pancreatitis of different aetiologies has been investigated in three animal models. Unlike biliary pancreatitis, alcohol-induced pancreatitis results in the activation of PSCs throughout the entire tissue. Ethanol and palmitoleic acid (POA) or palmitoleic acid ethyl ester (POAEE) act directly on quiescent PSCs, inducing cytosolic Ca2+ overload, disrupting mitochondrial functions, and inducing cell death. However, activated PSCs acquire remarkable resistance against ethanol metabolites via enhanced Ca2+-handling capacity, predominantly due to the downregulation of the TRPA1 channel. Inhibition or knockdown of TRPA1 reduces EtOH/POA-induced cytosolic Ca2+ overload and protects quiescent PSCs from cell death, similarly to the activated phenotype. Our results lead us to review current dogmas on alcoholic pancreatitis. While acinar cells and quiescent PSCs are prone to cell death caused by ethanol metabolites, activated PSCs can withstand noxious signals and, despite ongoing inflammation, deposit extracellular matrix components. Modulation of Ca2+ signals in PSCs by TRPA1 agonists/antagonists could become a strategy to shift the balance of tissue PSCs towards quiescent cells, thus limiting pancreatic fibrosis.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:, Type: open-access
Publisher: Springer Nature
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 August 2022
Date of Acceptance: 12 August 2022
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2023 04:18

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