Morroniside, a novel GATA3 binding molecule, inhibits hepatic stellate cells activation by enhancing lysosomal acid lipase expression

Lin An, Mi Zhang, Yuefang Lin, Ting Jiang, Keyang Xu, Shilin Xiao, Liming Cai, Hiu Yee Kwan*, Zhongqiu Liu*, Tao Su*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)



Liver fibrosis can be easily developed into irreversible liver cirrhosis or even liver cancer. Lysosomal acid lipase (LAL), encoded by the lipase A (Lipa) gene, is a critical enzyme involved in liver fibrosis development. Morroniside, an iridoid glycoside isolated from Cornus officinalis Sieb. et Zucc., exerts hepatic protective effects. However, the mechanism of action underling the anti-liver fibrosis effects of morroniside have not been fully elucidated. 


To explore whether Lipa served as a biomarker for liver fibrosis and investigate the anti-liver fibrosis effects of morroniside and the underlying action mechanism in liver fibrosis cell models. 


LAL expression was examined in the liver tissues of CCl4 and high-fat diet (HFD)-induced liver fibrosis animal models. α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) level, collagen and GATA family expressions were analyzed by Real-time PCR and Western blot. Putative transcription factor binding sites in the DNA sequences of Lipa was identified by PROMO-ALGGEN v8.3 online software and ENCODE ChIP-Seq Significance Tool. MD simulation was performed to explore the protein-ligand interaction. 


We found that the expression of hepatic LAL is lower in the liver fibrosis animal models than the control models. The reduced LAL expression is associated with HSCs activation, suggesting LAL is novel liver fibrosis biomarker. More importantly, our data showed that morroniside exerts anti-liver fibrosis effects in vitro. Mechanistic studies reveal that it binds to the hydrophobic sites of GATA3 and also reduces GATA3 expression, which increases LAL expression. 


This study, for the first time, suggests LAL is a novel biomarker for liver fibrosis. Besides, morroniside exerts its anti-liver fibrosis effects by targeting GATA3 and LAL and hence inhibits HSC activation. These findings provide strong scientific evidence to support the development of morroniside as novel alternative or complementary therapeutics for liver injury prevention and treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number154199
Number of pages10
Early online date24 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Complementary and alternative medicine

User-Defined Keywords

  • GATA3
  • Liver fibrosis
  • Lysosomal acid lipase
  • Morroniside


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