Impaired regulation of PMCA activity by defective CFTR expression promotes epithelial cell damage in alcoholic pancreatitis and hepatitis

April 28, 2022


Alcoholic pancreatitis and hepatitis are frequent, potentially lethal diseases with limited treatment options. Our previous study reported that the expression of CFTR Cl- channel is impaired by ethanol in pancreatic ductal cells leading to more severe alcohol-induced pancreatitis. In addition to determining epithelial ion secretion, CFTR has multiple interactions with other proteins, which may influence intracellular Ca2+ signaling. Thus, we aimed to investigate the impact of ethanol-mediated CFTR damage on intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis in pancreatic ductal epithelial cells and cholangiocytes. Human and mouse pancreas and liver samples and organoids were used to study ion secretion, intracellular signaling, protein expression and interaction. The effect of PMCA4 inhibition was analyzed in a mouse model of alcohol-induced pancreatitis. The decreased CFTR expression impaired PMCA function and resulted in sustained intracellular Ca2+ elevation in ethanol-treated and mouse and human pancreatic organoids. Liver samples derived from alcoholic hepatitis patients and ethanol-treated mouse liver organoids showed decreased CFTR expression and function, and impaired PMCA4 activity. PMCA4 co-localizes and physically interacts with CFTR on the apical membrane of polarized epithelial cells, where CFTR-dependent calmodulin recruitment determines PMCA4 activity. The sustained intracellular Ca2+ elevation in the absence of CFTR inhibited mitochondrial function and was accompanied with increased apoptosis in pancreatic epithelial cells and PMCA4 inhibition increased the severity of alcohol-induced AP in mice. Our results suggest that improving Ca2+ extrusion in epithelial cells may be a potential novel therapeutic approach to protect the exocrine pancreatic function in alcoholic pancreatitis and prevent the development of cholestasis in alcoholic hepatitis.

Keywords: Alcoholic hepatitis; Alcoholic pancreatitis; CFTR; Ca2+ signaling; Epithelial ion secretion.

© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.




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