Elife.: co-auth.: L.Fajas

Elife. 2023 Mar 6;12:e81926. doi: 10.7554/eLife.81926. Online ahead of print.

Hepatic lipid overload triggers biliary epithelial cell activation via E2Fs

Ece Yildiz 1Gaby El Alam 2Alessia Perino 1Antoine Jalil 1Pierre-Damien Denechaud 3Katharina Huber 4Lluis Fajas 4Johan Auwerx 2Giovanni Sorrentino 5Kristina Schoonjans 1


During severe or chronic hepatic injury, biliary epithelial cells (BECs) undergo rapid activation into proliferating progenitors, a crucial step required to establish a regenerative process known as ductular reaction (DR). While DR is a hallmark of chronic liver diseases, including advanced stages of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), the early events underlying BEC activation are largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate that BECs readily accumulate lipids during high-fat diet feeding in mice and upon fatty acid treatment in BEC-derived organoids. Lipid overload induces metabolic rewiring to support the conversion of adult cholangiocytes into reactive BECs. Mechanistically, we found that lipid overload activates the E2F transcription factors in BECs, which drives cell cycle progression while promoting glycolytic metabolism. These findings demonstrate that fat overload is sufficient to reprogram BECs into progenitor cells in the early stages of NAFLD and provide new insights into the mechanistic basis of this process, revealing unexpected connections between lipid metabolism, stemness, and regeneration.

Keywords: mouse; regenerative medicine; stem cells.