Prolonged darkness reduces liver fibrosis in a mouse model of primary sclerosing cholangitis by miR-200b down-regulation.
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Melatonin therapy or prolonged exposure to complete darkness reduces biliary hyperplasia and liver fibrosis in bile-duct-ligated (BDL) rats; however, no information exists in primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). Thus, we aimed to determine the therapeutic effects of prolonged dark therapy or melatonin administration on hepatic fibrosis in the multidrug resistance gene 2-knockout (Mdr2-/-) mouse model of PSC. Melatonin levels, biliary mass, liver fibrosis, angiogenesis and miR-200b expression were evaluated in wild-type and Mdr2-/- mice exposed to darkness or melatonin treatment or in male patients with PSC and healthy controls. Mdr2-/- mice were also treated with miR-200b inhibitor or control before evaluating biliary mass, liver fibrosis, and angiogenesis. After overexpression of arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AANAT; the enzyme regulating melatonin synthesis) or inhibition of miR-200b in cholangiocytes and hepatic stellate cells in vitro, we evaluated angiogenesis and fibrosis gene expression. After exposure to darkness or administration of melatonin, Mdr2-/- mice show elevated serum melatonin levels and inhibition of biliary mass, along with reduction of liver fibrosis and angiogenesis. MicroRNA PCR analysis demonstrated that miR-200b expression increased in Mdr2-/- mice and patients with PSC compared with controls and decreased in Mdr2-/- mice subjected to dark exposure or melatonin treatment. Inhibition of miR-200b in Mdr2-/- ablates biliary proliferation, liver fibrosis, and angiogenesis. In vitro, overexpression of AANAT or inhibition of miR-200b in cholangiocytes and hepatic stellate cells decreased the expression of miR-200b, angiogenesis, and fibrosis genes. Dark therapy or targeting melatonin/miR-200b axis may be important in the management of biliary damage and liver fibrosis in cholangiopathies including PSC.-Wu, N., Meng, F., Zhou, T., Han, Y., Kennedy, L., Venter, J., Francis, H., DeMorrow, S., Onori, P., Invernizzi, P., Bernuzzi, F., Mancinelli, R., Gaudio, E., Franchitto, A., Glaser, S., Alpini G. Prolonged darkness reduces liver fibrosis in a mouse model of primary sclerosing cholangitis by miR-200b down-regulation.