Theranostics 2017; 7(11):2822-2836. doi:10.7150/thno.19068

Research Paper

C-X-C Motif Chemokine 10 Impairs Autophagy and Autolysosome Formation in Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis

Xiang Zhang1, William KK Wu2, Weiqi Xu1, Kwan Man3, Xiaojuan Wang1, Juqiang Han1, 4, Wing Yan Leung1, Ruonan Wu1, Ken Liu1, 5, Jun Yu1✉

1. Institute of Digestive Disease and The Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, State Key Laboratory of Digestive Disease, Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences, CUHK Shenzhen Research Institute, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong;
2. Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong;
3. Department of Surgery, LKS Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong;
4. Institute of liver disease, Beijing Military General Hospital, Beijing, China;
5. Faculty of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.


C-X-C motif chemokine 10 (CXCL10) is a crucial pro-inflammatory factor in chronic hepatitis. Autophagy dysregulation is known to contribute to hepatic inflammatory injury. Hence, we investigated the regulatory effect of CXCL10 on the autophagosome-lysosome system during non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) development. The effect of CXCL10 ablation by neutralizing monoclonal antibody (mAb) or genetic knockout on autophagic flux was evaluated in cultured hepatocytes and animal models of NAFLD. Results demonstrated that CXCL10 ablation protected against hepatocyte injury in vitro and steatohepatitis development in mice. Autophagic flux impairment was rectified by CXCL10 inhibition using anti-CXCL10 mAb in AML-12 and HepG2 liver cell lines and primary hepatocytes as evidenced by the attenuated accumulation of p62/SQSTM1 and LC3-II proteins and increased autophagic protein degradation. Impaired autophagic flux was significantly restored by CXCL10 knockout or anti-CXCL10 mAb in mice. Bafilomycin A1, an inhibitor of autolysosome formation, abolished the rectifying effect of anti-CXCL10 mAb or CXCL10 knockdown in AML-12 and primary hepatocytes, indicating CXCL10 impaired late-stage autophagy in NAFLD. Anti-CXCL10 mAb treatment also increased the fusion of LC3-positive autophagosomes with lysosomes in HepG2 cells challenged with palmitic acid, suggesting that CXCL10 ablation restored autolysosome formation. Consistently, the number of autolysosomes was significantly increased by CXCL10 knockout in mice as shown by electron microscopy. In conclusion, upregulated CXCL10 in steatohepatitis impairs autophagic flux by reducing autolysosome formation, thereby inhibiting autophagic protein degradation and the accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins, leading to the development of steatohepatitis.

Keywords: Cytokine, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, autophagy, lysosome, autolysosome.

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How to cite this article:
Zhang X, Wu WK, Xu W, Man K, Wang X, Han J, Leung WY, Wu R, Liu K, Yu J. C-X-C Motif Chemokine 10 Impairs Autophagy and Autolysosome Formation in Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis. Theranostics 2017; 7(11):2822-2836. doi:10.7150/thno.19068. Available from