Senescent cells have long been associated with deleterious effects in aging-related pathologies, although recent studies have uncovered their beneficial roles in certain contexts, such as wound healing. We have found that hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) underwent senescence within 2 days after 2/3 partial hepatectomy (PHx) in young (2–3 months old) mice, and the elimination of these senescent cells by using the senolytic drug ABT263 or by using a genetic mouse model impaired liver regeneration. Senescent HSCs secrete IL-6 and CXCR2 ligands as part of the senescence-associated secretory phenotype, which induces multiple signaling pathways to stimulate liver regeneration. IL-6 activates STAT3, induces Yes-associated protein (YAP) activation through SRC family kinases, and synergizes with CXCL2 to activate ERK1/2 to stimulate hepatocyte proliferation. The administration of either IL-6 or CXCL2 partially restored liver regeneration in mice with senescent cell elimination, and the combination of both fully restored liver weight recovery. Furthermore, the matricellular protein central communication network factor 1 (CCN1, previously called CYR61) was rapidly elevated in response to PHx and induced HSC senescence. Knockin mice expressing a mutant CCN1 unable to bind integrin α6β1 were deficient in senescent cells and liver regeneration after PHx. Thus, HSC senescence, largely induced by CCN1, is a programmed response to PHx and plays a critical role in liver regeneration through signaling pathways activated by IL-6 and ligands of CXCR2.


Naiyuan Cheng, Ki-Hyun Kim, Lester F. Lau


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