Fibrosis resolution in the mouse liver: Role of Mmp12 and potential role of calpain 1/2

Sato, Toshifumi, et al. “Fibrosis resolution in the mouse liver: Role of Mmp12 and potential role of calpain 1/2.” Matrix Biology Plus 17 (2023): 100127.


Although most work has focused on resolution of collagen ECM, fibrosis resolution involves changes to several ECM proteins. The purpose of the current study was twofold: 1) to examine the role of MMP12 and elastin; and 2) to investigate the changes in degraded proteins in plasma (i.e., the “degradome”) in a preclinical model of fibrosis resolution. Fibrosis was induced by 4 weeks carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) exposure, and recovery was monitored for an additional 4 weeks. Some mice were treated with daily MMP12 inhibitor (MMP408) during the resolution phase. Liver injury and fibrosis was monitored by clinical chemistry, histology and gene expression. The release of degraded ECM peptides in the plasma was analyzed using by 1D-LC-MS/MS, coupled with PEAKS Studio (v10) peptide identification. Hepatic fibrosis and liver injury rapidly resolved in this mouse model. However, some collagen fibrils were still present 28d after cessation of CCl4. Despite this persistent collagen presence, expression of canonical markers of fibrosis were also normalized. The inhibition of MMP12 dramatically delayed fibrosis resolution under these conditions. LC-MS/MS analysis identified that several proteins were being degraded even at late stages of fibrosis resolution. Calpains 1/2 were identified as potential new proteases involved in fibrosis resolution. CONCLUSION. The results of this study indicate that remodeling of the liver during recovery from fibrosis is a complex and highly coordinated process that extends well beyond the degradation of the collagenous scar. These results also indicate that analysis of the plasma degradome may yield new insight into the mechanisms of fibrosis recovery, and by extension, new “theragnostic” targets. Lastly, a novel potential role for calpain activation in the degradation and turnover of proteins was identified.