Activation of APE1 modulates Nrf2 protected against acute liver injury by inhibit hepatocyte ferroptosis and promote hepatocyte autophagy

Jianxin Diao, Huijie Fan, Jia Zhang, Xiuqiong Fu, Rongxin Liao, Peng Zhao, Wei Huang, Shiying Huang, Huajun Liao, Jieying Yu, Dongmei Pan, Ming Wang*, Wei Xiao*, Xiaomin Wen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Background: Apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 1/redox effector factor 1 (APE1/Ref-1) plays a crucial role in DNA base excision repair, cell apoptosis, cell signaling, and the regulation of transcription factors through redox modulation and the control of reactive oxygen species (ROS). However, the connection between APE1 and acute liver injury (ALI) remains enigmatic. This study aims to unravel the molecular mechanisms underlying ALI and shed light on the role of APE1 in this context. 

Method: We induced acute liver injury (ALI) in mice by lipopolysaccharide/D-galactosamine (LPS/GalN) and intervened with the APE1 inhibitor E3330. We examined the expression of APE1 in ALI mice and ALI patient tissues after E3330 intervention, Additionally, we measured hepatic oxidative stress, ferroptosis, and autophagy marker proteins and genes. In establishing an AML-12 liver cell injury model, we utilized the Nrf2 activator tert-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) as an intervention and examined APE1, Nrf2, ferroptosis-related proteins, and autophagy marker proteins and mRNA. 

Results: Both ALI patients and ALI mice exhibited reduced APE1 expression levels. After E3330 intervention, there was a significant exacerbation of liver injury, oxidative stress, and a reduction in the expression of proteins, including GPX4, X-CT, ATG3, ATG5, and LC3 (LC3I/II). Consistent results were also observed in AML-12 cells. With TBHQ intervention, Nrf2 expression increased, along with the expression of proteins associated with iron death and autophagy. Mechanistically, APE1 activation regulates Nrf2 to inhibit ferroptosis and promote autophagy in hepatocytes. 

Conclusion: The data suggest that APE1 is a pivotal player in ALI, closely linked to its regulation of Nrf2. Strategies involving APE1 activation to modulate Nrf2, thereby inhibiting hepatocyte ferroptosis and promoting autophagy, may represent innovative therapeutic approaches for ALI. Additionally, tert-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) holds significant promise in the treatment of acute liver injury.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111529
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Immunopharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2024

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Acute liver injury
  • Apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 1/redox effector factor 1
  • Autophagy
  • Ferroptosis
  • Nuclear erythroid factor 2 like 2


Dive into the research topics of 'Activation of APE1 modulates Nrf2 protected against acute liver injury by inhibit hepatocyte ferroptosis and promote hepatocyte autophagy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this