Eucommia ulmoides Cortex, Geniposide and Aucubin Regulate Lipotoxicity through the Inhibition of Lysosomal BAX

PLOS ONE, Feb 2014

In this study we examined the inhibition of hepatic dyslipidemia by Eucommia ulmoides extract (EUE). Using a screening assay for BAX inhibition we determined that EUE regulates BAX-induced cell death. Among various cell death stimuli tested EUE regulated palmitate-induced cell death, which involves lysosomal BAX translocation. EUE rescued palmitate-induced inhibition of lysosomal V-ATPase, α-galactosidase, α-mannosidase, and acid phosphatase, and this effect was reversed by bafilomycin, a lysosomal V-ATPase inhibitor. The active components of EUE, aucubin and geniposide, showed similar inhibition of palmitate-induced cell death to that of EUE through enhancement of lysosome activity. Consistent with these in vitro findings, EUE inhibited the dyslipidemic condition in a high-fat diet animal model by regulating the lysosomal localization of BAX. This study demonstrates that EUE regulates lipotoxicity through a novel mechanism of enhanced lysosomal activity leading to the regulation of lysosomal BAX activation and cell death. Our findings further indicate that geniposide and aucubin, active components of EUE, may be therapeutic candidates for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

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Eucommia ulmoides Cortex, Geniposide and Aucubin Regulate Lipotoxicity through the Inhibition of Lysosomal BAX

Geniposide and Aucubin Regulate Lipotoxicity through the Inhibition of Lysosomal BAX. PLoS ONE 9(2): e88017. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088017 Eucommia ulmoides Cortex, Geniposide and Aucubin Regulate Lipotoxicity through the Inhibition of Lysosomal BAX Geum-Hwa Lee 0 Mi-Rin Lee 0 Hwa-Young Lee 0 Seung Hyun Kim 0 Hye-Kyung Kim 0 Hyung-Ryong Kim 0 Han-Jung Chae 0 Giovanni Li Volti, University of Catania, Italy 0 1 Department of Pharmacology and Cardiovascular Research Institute, Medical School, Chonbuk National University , Jeonju , Republic of Korea, 2 College of Pharmacy, Yonsei Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Yonsei University , Incheon , Korea , 3 Department of Dental Pharmacology and Wonkwang Dental Research Institute, School of Dentistry, Wonkwang University , Iksan , Republic of Korea In this study we examined the inhibition of hepatic dyslipidemia by Eucommia ulmoides extract (EUE). Using a screening assay for BAX inhibition we determined that EUE regulates BAX-induced cell death. Among various cell death stimuli tested EUE regulated palmitate-induced cell death, which involves lysosomal BAX translocation. EUE rescued palmitate-induced inhibition of lysosomal V-ATPase, a-galactosidase, a-mannosidase, and acid phosphatase, and this effect was reversed by bafilomycin, a lysosomal V-ATPase inhibitor. The active components of EUE, aucubin and geniposide, showed similar inhibition of palmitate-induced cell death to that of EUE through enhancement of lysosome activity. Consistent with these in vitro findings, EUE inhibited the dyslipidemic condition in a high-fat diet animal model by regulating the lysosomal localization of BAX. This study demonstrates that EUE regulates lipotoxicity through a novel mechanism of enhanced lysosomal activity leading to the regulation of lysosomal BAX activation and cell death. Our findings further indicate that geniposide and aucubin, active components of EUE, may be therapeutic candidates for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. - Funding: This study was supported by the National Research Foundation (2012R1A2A1A03001907 and 2008-0062279). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an increasingly recognized form of chronic liver disease that can progress to endstage liver disease [1,2]. A net retention of lipids within hepatocytes, mostly in the form of triglycerides, is a prerequisite for the development of NAFLD [3]. Proposed mechanisms for cellular dysfunction include increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), de novo ceramide biosynthesis, nitric oxide generation, and caspase activation. It has also been reported that free fatty acids in hepatocytes lead to the translocation of BAX to lysosomes, lysosomal destabilization, and the resultant expression of nuclear factor-kappa B-dependent tumor necrosis factor-alpha [4]. Separately, it was reported that saturated free fatty acids induce mitochondrial dysfunction and increased ROS production downstream of lysosomal permeabilization and the resultant cathepsin B release in both human and murine hepatocytes [5]. However, the pathogenesis of NAFLD, and in particular the mechanisms responsible for liver injury and disease progression, remain poorly understood. Eucommoia ulmoides is a species of small tree native to China. It belongs to the genus Eucommia, the only genus of the family Eucommiaceae. E. ulmoides has been used in traditional oriental medicine to improve the tone of the liver and kidney, increase longevity, and reduce blood pressure [6]. More recently, E. ulmoides cortex extract has been widely used to improve liver steatosis and has become considered a functional health food [6 8]]. E. ulmoides has been reported to contain polyphenolics, flavonoids, and triterpines as its chemical constituents [7]. Flavonol glycosides present in this plant including quercetin and kaempferol have been reported to possess glycation inhibitory activity and prevent diabetes [8]. Recently, a controlled pilot study has also shown efficacy of a herbal mixture containing E. ulmoides by demonstrating its regulatory effect on alanine aminotransferase (ALT) in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) [9]. However, the mechanism by which E. ulmoides extract affects liver physiopathologic status needs to be studied. To clarify how the Eucommia ulmoides extract (EUE) regulates the NAFLD condition we examined the effects of EUE on palmitateinduced cell death through the regulation of BAX and related cathepsin B-induced cell death in hepatic cells, an in vitro lipotoxicity model. EUE was also applied to an animal high-fat diet model to determine its regulatory effects on pathologic phenomena including lipid accumulation, lipid peroxidation, and tissue damage. Korea). We followed an ethanol extraction method in the preparation of E. ulmoides Oliver extracts, as described previously [10]. Briefly, E. ulmoides Oliver cortex (100 g) was treated with 80% ethanol (1 g in 8 ml) and boiled twice under reflux for 1 h. After filtration, the supernatant was vacuum dried at 50uC, redissolved in distilled water, filtered, and vacuum-dried at 50uC. After freeze-drying, the final E. ulmoides Oliver extracts were stored at 4uC. For animal experiments, E. ulmoides cortex was purchased from SAMHONG HANYAKJAE (Seoul, Korea). Voucher specimens (YP-001) documenting these collections have been deposited in the College of Pharmacy, Yonsei University. The powdered sample was weighed and extracted with 25% ethanol and water, respectively, for 2 hours at 90uC using a reflux. After freezedrying, the final EUE was stored at 4uC. The pulverized extract was kept at 4uC. Reagents Phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) was purchased from Invitrogen and trypan blue was purchased from Sigma (St Louis, MO). Geniposide was from Sigma. Aucubin was isolated from EUE by serial chromatographic separations using silica gel column chromatography and semi-preparative HPLC. All other chemicals were purchased from Sigma. The purity of all reagents was at least analytical grade. Cell Culture and Viability Analysis Human hepatocellular carcinoma (HepG2) cells were cultured in Dulbeccos modified eagle medium (DMEM) (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA) with 10% fetal bovine serum (Invitrogen) and penicillin-streptomycin (Invitrogen). HepG2 cells were cultured with or without various agents, including EUE as indicated, and cell viability was assessed by trypan blue dye exclusion using a hemocytometer. Animal Care and Treatment Female Sprague-Dawley rats weighing 250270 g were obtained from Damul Science Co (Daejeon, Korea). Rats were maintained on a 12 h:12 h light:dark cycle (lights on at 06:00) in stainless steel wire-bottomed cages and acclimated under laboratory conditions for at least 1 week before experiments. The control group (n = 10) was fed a standard diet, whereas the high-fat diet (HFD) group (n = 12) was fed a calorie-rich diet of 1% cholesterol, 18% lipid (lard), 40% sucrose, 1% AIN-93G vitamins, and 19% casein, with the same fiber and minerals as the control groups diet. Rats in the EUE-25 groups (n = 10) were fed 0.25, 0.5, or 1 g/kg EUE-25 with the HFD. Experiments were terminated after 10 weeks. Rats were anaesthetized with diethyl ether (Sigma) and cervical dislocation was performed. Tissues were immediately harvested as needed for each experiment. First, whole blood was obtained by cardiac puncture, immediately placed on ice in a 1.5mL centrifuge tube for 15 to 30 minutes, and then centrifuged at 8,000 rpm for 10 minutes. Serum was transferred to a fresh 1.5mL centrifuge tube and stored at 280uC before measurement of cholesterol, triglyceride, and liver lipid content. Next, liver tissues were harvested, immediately placed in liquid nitrogen, and stored at 280uC. Tissues were homogenized for Western blotting. All animal procedures for this study were approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Chonbuk National University laboratory animal center (IACUC, CBU 2013-0018) and all efforts were made to minimize animal suffering. Immunoblotting For immunoblotting, cells or tissues were lysed on ice by direct addition of RIPA lysis buffer [50 mM TrisHCl (pH 7.4), 150 mM NaCl, 0.25% sodium deoxycholate, 1% NP40, 1 mM ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), 0.1% sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)] plus protease inhibitor cocktail set III and phosphatase inhibitor cocktail set II (EMD Biosciences, La Jolla, CA, USA). Lysates were then transferred to microtubes and incubated for 30 min on ice, followed by centrifugation at 12,000 rpm for 10 min at 4uC, and supernatants were collected to obtain protein extracts. Protein extracts were added to sample buffer, boiled in a water bath for 5 min, and stored at 20uC until use. Ten micrograms of extracted proteins were run on a polyacrylamide gel and transferred to a nitrocellulose membrane, which was blocked with Tris-buffered saline (TBS) solution containing 0.05% Tween-20 for 30 min at room temperature. Rabbit anti-Bax, rabbit anti-hsp60, rabbit anti-caspase-3, rabbit anti-caspase-9, mouse anti-Bid, rabbit anti-PDI, and rabbit anti-atubulin were purchased from Cell Signaling Technologies, Inc. (Danvers, MA). Mouse anti-Lamp-1, rabbit anti-COX II, rabbit anti-cathepsin B, and mouse anti-b-actin antibodies were obtained from Santa Cruz Biotechnologies Inc. (Santa Cruz, CA). The blots were probed overnight at 4uC with antibodies, washed, and probed again with species-specific secondary antibodies coupled to horseradish peroxidase (GE Healthcare, Piscataway, NJ, USA). Chemiluminescence reagents (GE Healthcare) were used for detection. Measurement of Caspase-3 Activity For the detection of caspase-3 activity, PBS-washed cell pellets were resuspended in extract buffer [25 mM HEPES (pH7.4), 0.1% Triton X-l00, 10% glycerol, 5 mM DTT, protease inhibitor cocktail] and extracts were centrifuged at 14,000 rpm at 4uC for 15 min. Soluble cytosolic protein (40 mg) was mixed with 100 mM of the caspase-3-specific substrate Ac-DEVD-AFC (Sigma-Aldrich) in a final volume of 100 ml and incubated at 37uC. Caspase3 activity was measured continuously by monitoring the release of fluorogenic AFC at 37uC. Subsequently, substrate cleavage was monitored at 405 nm using a SPECTRAmax 340 microplate reader and analyzed using SOFTmax PRO software (Molecular Devices, Sunnyvale, CA, USA). Oil Red O Staining To measure fat accumulation in HepG2 cells, cell grown in culture dishes were washed with cold PBS and fixed in 4% paraformaldehyde. After two washes with 60% isopropanol, OilRed-O agent was added with agitation for 10 min, followed by washing in 50% isopropanol. For each dish, three images were photographed and a representative image is shown. Immunostaining For immunostaining of LAMP-1, BAX, or cathepsin B, the cells were fixed with acetone/methanol (50:50) for 3 min at 220uC. Fixed cells were blocked with 10% fetal bovine serum in PBS for 1 hour, incubated for 24 h at 4uC with antibody against LAMP1 or cathepsin B at a 1:100 dilution in PBS containing 3% bovine serum albumin, washed with PBS and incubated for an additional hour at room temperature with Cy2-conjugated anti-rabbit IgG at a dilution of 1:800 in PBS containing 3% bovine serum albumin. The cells were then viewed under a fluorescence microscope and images were acquired using an Olympus IX 70 equipped with NanomoverH and Softworx DeltaVision (Applied Precision, Issaquah WA). EUE for 24 hours and cell viability was analyzed (A). Cells were treated with 500 mM palmitate in the presence or absence of 100 mg/mL EUE for 0, 6, 12, 24, or 48 hours. Cell viability (B) or caspase-3 activity (C) was analyzed and immunoblotting with anti-caspase-3, caspase-9, or b-actin antibody was performed (D). Immunoblotting of lysosome and cytosol fractions was performed with antibody against cathepsin B, LAMP-1, or tubulin (E). Cathepsin B activity in the medium was measured (F). Cells were treated with 500 mM palmitate in the presence or absence of 100 mg/mL EUE for 24 hours. Hoechst staining (G) and cathepsin B immunostaining (H) were performed, and the diffuse staining pattern was quantitatively analyzed (H; lower). Co-immunostaining of cathepsin B and LAMP-1 was performed (I), and the overlap of staining was quantified (right). *p,0.05, significantly different from palmitate-treated condition, Pal.; palmitate, EUE; Eucommia ulmoides Oliver extract. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088017.g002 Figure 3. EUE regulates palmitate-reduced lysosomal activity. Cells were treated with 500 mM palmitate in the presence or absence of 100 mg/mL EUE for 24 hours followed by exposure to 5 mM LysoTracker and image acquisition (A). Lysosomal fluorescence was quantified (A; lower). Lysosomal V-ATPase activity was measured as described in Materials and Methods (B). Acridine orange solution and valinomycin were added to cell monolayers and intravesicular H+ uptake was initiated by the addition of Mg-ATP (C); fluorescence was quantified at 24 hours (C; right). Cells were treated with 500 mM palmitate in the presence or absence of 100 mg/mL EUE for 0, 6, 12, 24, or 48 hours, and levels of a-galactosidase, amannosidase, and acid phosphatase were measured (D). *p,0.05, significantly different from palmitate-treated condition. DIC; differential interference contrast microscopy, Pal.; palmitate, EUE; Eucommia ulmoides Oliver extract. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088017.g003 Figure 4. Lysosomal V-ATPase inhibitor bafilomycin blocks the effect of EUE on lysosomal BAX location and cell death. Cells were treated with 500 mM palmitate in the presence or absence of 100 mg/mL EUE after pretreatment with 1 mM bafilomycin for 24 hours. Lysosomal VATPase activity was measured (A). Acridine orange solution and valinomycin were added to cell monolayers and intravesicular H+ uptake was initiated by the addition of Mg-ATP (B); the fluorescence was quantified at 24 hours (B; right). Cell viability assay (C) and caspase-3 activity analysis (D) were performed. Immunostaining was performed with anti-BAX or LAMP-1 antibody and the co-localized BAX was quantified as the percent of lysosomaltranslocated BAX (E). Immunoblot analysis of lysosome fractions with antibody against BAX, t-Bid, PDI, COX II, or LAMP-1 (F). *p,0.05, significantly different from EUE-treated condition in the presence of palmitate. Con; control, Pal.; palmitate, EUE; Eucommia ulmoides Oliver extract, Bafi; Bafilomycin. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088017.g004 Assessment of Lysosome Activity LysoTracker probes have high selectivity for acidic organelles and are effective for the labeling of live cells [11]. HepG2 cells were grown in a dish, rinsed with PBS, and stained with 100 nm LysoTracker Red DND-26 (Molecular Probes, Eugene, OR) in serum-free medium for 30 min at room temperature. Cells were then washed with PBS. Lysosome size and staining intensity were analyzed by fluorescence microscopy at 488 nm. The cells were viewed and analyzed using Softworx DeltaVision software (Applied Precision, Issaquah, WA, USA). Isolation of Lysosomes Lysosomes were isolated from a light mitochondrial-lysosomal fraction in an OptiPrep density gradient (Lysosome Isolation Kit, Sigma) according to the manufacturers instructions. Assessment of Lysosomal V-ATPase Activity in Lysosome Vesicles For measurement of lysosomal V-ATPase activity, an acridine orange uptake assay was performed with lysosome vesicles [12,13]. The activation buffer contained 6 mM acridine orange, 150 mM KCl, 2 mM MgCl2, and 10 mM Bis-Tris-propane. After a steady spectrofluorometric baseline was achieved, V-ATPase was activated by the addition of ATP (1.4 mM final concentration) and valinomycin (2.5 mM, pH 7.0) to promote the movement of K+ from the inside to the outside of the lysosome to generate a membrane potential. V-ATPase-driven pumping of hydrogen ions into lysosomes (acridine orange dye uptake) was measured by stimulation of intralysosomal fluorescence (excited at 495 nm and recorded at 530 nm), which was measured using a fluorescence system (Photon Technology International). Separately, isolated lysosomes were placed in a cuvette containing the same activation buffer. Extralysosomal quenching of acridine orange fluorescence was determined using a fluorescence system (Photon Technology International). To confirm V-ATPase activity, stimulation of intralysosomal fluorescence and the quenching of the extralysosomal fluorescence were measured with and without 1 mM bafilomycin, a specific inhibitor of the vacuolar type H+-ATPase. Statistical Analysis Results are presented as mean 6 SEM from at least three independent experiments, unless stated otherwise. MicroCal Origin software (Northampton, MA) was used for statistical calculations. Differences were tested for significance using oneway analysis of variance (ANOVA) with Duncans multiple range tests. Statistical significance was set at p,0.05. EUE Protects against BAX-induced Cell Death in Yeast Cell System Human BAX is not endogenously expressed in yeast. For screening genes or materials against cell death stimuli, a human BAX screening system has been used [14,15]. The system includes a galactose (Gal) promoter containing the BAX promoter. For the experiments, yeast containing YEp51-BAX were grown in glucose-containing medium (SDMM) to repress BAX expression, and the cells were transferred to the culture medium with galactose (SGMM) to induce expression of BAX. The expression of BAX was shown in Supplementary Fig. 1A (left). The functional relevance of BAX expression was also measured. Yeast cells were separately spread on solid media containing glucose, called SDMM, or galactose, called SGMM, and the agar plates were incubated for three days at 30uC. As shown in Figure S1 (right), cell death was clearly induced on SGMM plate. Based upon a screening assay with BAX, yeasts containing YEp51-Bax were grown in glucose-containing medium to repress BAX expression, then the yeasts were diluted 10-fold, and 50 mg/mL of EUE was added to galactose-containing medium and incubated for 16 hours. EUE significantly and reproducibly protected cells against BAX (Figure S1B). In the solid medium condition, the protective effect of EUE was also confirmed in a dose-dependent manner (Figure S1C), indicating EUE regulates BAX-induced cell death at least in Yeast system. EUE Inhibits Palmitate-induced Cell Death Based on the results from a yeast-BAX study with EUE (Supplementary Fig. 1), we examined the protective effects of EUE on HepG2 cell viability after treatment with various cell death stimuli such as etoposide, staurosporine, or palmitate. Treatment of HepG2 cells with these agents significantly reduced cell viability (Fig. 1A). EUE showed a significant protective effect only against cell death induced by palmitate, which involves a lysosomal cell death pathway [4]. Consistent with this result, among the three stimuli lysosomal BAX localization was observed only in the palmitate-treated cells, and the palmitate-induced lysosomal BAX localization was specifically inhibited by EUE (Fig. 1B). The purity of the lysosomal fraction was confirmed by lack of expression of the mitochondrial protein HSP60. Although EUE did not affect the expression of BAX, it regulated the lysosomal localization of BAX at 24 and 48 hours after treatment (Fig. 1C). The expression of truncated BID (t-BID), a downstream molecule in the signaling pathway of lysosomal BAX localization [16], in the lysosomal fraction was also delayed by treatment with EUE. The purity of lysosomal protein was confirmed by positive expression of the lysosomal marker LAMP-1 and failure to detect PDI, an ER protein, or COXII, a mitochondrial protein, on the same blots. The regulation of lysosomal BAX was confirmed by immunostaining with antibody to endogenous BAX. The co-localization of BAX and LAMP-1 was clearly inhibited in the presence of EUE (Fig. 1D). Supplementary Results. EUE Protects against Palmitate-induced Hepatic Cell Death through Regulation of Lysosomal Cathepsin B Next, we analyzed the characteristics of palmitate-induced cell death. First, we confirmed hepatic lipid accumulation in palmitatetreated cells (Fig. 2A, left). In the presence of a high concentration of palmitate (500 mM) cell viability was approximately 6065% at analyzed. Immunoblotting was performed with antibody against active caspase-3, caspase-9, or b-actin (C). Cells were incubated with 500 mM palmitate in the presence or absence of 10 mg/mL aucubin or geniposide for 0, 6, 12, 24, or 48 hours. Cell viability (D) and caspase-3 (E) activity were analyzed. Cells were incubated with 500 mM palmitate in the presence or absence of 10 mg/mL aucubin or geniposide for 24 or 48 hours. Immunoblotting was performed with antibody against active caspase-3, caspase-9, or b-actin (F). Cells were incubated with 500 mM palmitate in the presence or absence of 10 mg/mL aucubin or geniposide for 24 hours and stained with Hoechst (G). Cells were incubated with 500 mM palmitate in the presence or absence of 10 mg/mL aucubin or geniposide for 24 or 48 hours. Immunoblotting was carried out with antibody against BAX, cathepsin B, LAMP-1, or tubulin (H). Cathepsin B activity in the medium was measured (I). Cells were incubated with 500 mM palmitate in the presence or absence of 10 mg/mL aucubin or geniposide for 24 hours. Immunostaining was performed with anti-LAMP-1 antibody and subsequently with anticathepsin B antibody. The degree of overlap in staining was quantified (J). *p,0.05, significantly different from palmitate-treated condition Pal.; palmitate. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088017.g005 24 hours. EUE showed a dose-dependent (Fig. 2A, right) and timedependent (Fig. 2B) protective effect against palmitate-induced cell death. Consistent with these findings, caspase-3 activity was regulated by EUE (Fig. 2C). The active forms of caspase-3 and 9 were expressed at relatively low levels in the presence of EUE, compared with treatment with palmitate alone (Fig. 2D). Because the localization of BAX in lysosomes induces lysosome permeabilization and subsequent leakage of the acidic protease cathepsin, which leads to cell death [17,18], we investigated the expression of cathepsin B. In lysosome fractions, the expression of cathepsin B was decreased by treatment with palmitate, but the decrease was delayed by co-treatment with EUE (Fig. 2E). The expression of cathepsin B in cytosol fractions was similarly regulated by EUE. LAMP-1 and tubulin were used as lysosome and cytosol markers, respectively [19]. The activity of cathepsin B in the medium was also regulated by treatment with EUE (Fig. 2F). In microscopy studies, bright Hoechst dye staining of cells, which indicates cell death, was also decreased by EUE treatment (Fig. 2G). A diffuse cellular expression pattern of cathepsin B was confirmed in the presence of palmitate, and was also regulated by EUE (Fig. 2H), indicating regulation of lysosomal BAX translocation and the resultant cathepsin B leakage from lysosomes. Co-localization of cathepsin B and LAMP-1 was clearly observed in cells that were co-treated with EUE and palmitate (Fig. 2I), demonstrating that the integrity of lysosomes was maintained in the presence of EUE. EUE Reverses Palmitate-inhibited Lysosomal Activation LysoTracker staining analysis showed that EUE rescued the lysosomal dye fluorescence that was decreased by palmitate (Fig. 3A). The lysosomal fluorescence intensity was also quantified (Fig. 3A, bottom). Acridine orange has been used to study the acidification of cytoplasmic vesicles [20,21]. Acridine orange was loaded into isolated lysosome membranes from cells that were exposed to palmitate with or without EUE. Extra-lysosomal fluorescence quenching was measured in the presence of ATP. In the presence of EUE and palmitate the acridine orange fluorescence was more significantly quenched than with single treatment with palmitate (Fig. 3B). Intravesicular H+ uptake in acridine orange dye-loaded cells was also analyzed by fluorescence microscopy. H+ uptake was decreased by palmitate, and this inhibition was rescued by EUE (Fig. 3C). This finding is consistent with the extralysosomal quenching of acridine orange fluorescence in the presence of EUE (Fig. 3B). The activities of the lysosomal enzymes a-galactosidase, a-mannosidase, and acid phosphatase were also measured. Activity of these enzymes gradually decreased after treatment with palmitate, but the decrease was mitigated by EUE (Fig. 3D). To clarify the role of lysosome activity in the protective effect of EUE, we used the V-ATPase inhibitor bafilomycin. First, V-ATPase activity was analyzed with and without bafilomycin. Bafilomycin was used at the relatively low concentration of 10 nM, the approximate IC50, throughout this study [21]. Bafilomycin significantly inhibited the rescue of VATPase activity by EUE (Fig. 4A). In the intravesicular H+ assay, the EUE-induced recovery of intravesicular H+ uptake was similarly inhibited by bafilomycin (Fig. 4B). Quantification analysis is shown in Figure 4B (right). EUE-induced protection against cell death and reduction of caspase-3 activity were also reversed by bafilomycin (Figs. 4C, D), indicating a major involvement of lysosomal activity in EUE-induced protection. The regulation of lysosomal BAX localization with or without bafilomycin was examined by confocal analysis (Fig. 4E) and cellular fraction assay (Fig. 4F). As expected, the regulatory effect of EUE on BAX localization was suppressed by the V-ATPase inhibitor bafilomycin. Aucubin and Geniposide, Active Constituents of EUE, Regulate Palmitate-induced Cathepsin B-associated Cell Death through Lysosomal Activation We next tested the effects of aucubin and geniposide, the main active components of Eucommia ulmoides cortex [22], on palmitateinduced cell death. Cell viability, caspase-3 activity, and the expression of active caspase-3 and -9 were analyzed in HepG2 cells. Treatment with aucubin or geniposide regulated viability of palmitate-treated cells in a dose-dependent manner (Fig. 5A). The activity of caspase-3 (Fig. 5B) and the expression of active caspase3 and -9 (Fig. 5C) in palmitate-treated cells were also regulated by treatment with aucubin or geniposide. These results showed dosedependent protective effects of both agents against palmitate. Treatment with a specific concentration of aucubin or geniposide, 10 mg/mL, regulated palmitate-induced cell death and caspase-3 activation in a time-dependent manner (Figs. 5D, E). Each component also suppressed palmitate-induced active caspase-3 and -9 expression at 24 and 48 hours after treatment (Fig. 5F). The induction of apoptotic cell morphology by palmitate was also inhibited by co-treatment with aucubin or geniposide (Fig. 5G). To confirm the regulation of lysosomal localization of BAX and the subsequent release of cathepsin B in aucubin- or geniposidetreated cells, lysosome and cytosol fractionation analysis was performed. Translocation of BAX to the lysosome and leakage of cathepsin B from the lysosome were clearly reversed by treatment with aucubin or geniposide (Fig. 5H). Cathepsin B activity in the medium was inhibited by treatment with each component (Fig. 5I). Confocal analysis confirmed co-localization of cathepsin B with LAMP-1. In the presence of palmitate cathepsin B was diffusely expressed, whereas with addition of aucubin or geniposide the acidic protease was significantly localized in the lysosome (Figure S2). Quantification of the percentage of overlap between cathepsin B and LAMP-1 staining is shown in Figure 5J. Since it has been reported that lysosomal translocation of BAX and related cathepsin B release are also related to intracellular ROS [23], intracellular ROS were measured by dihydrodichlorofluorescein diacetate (DCFDA) analysis. The palmitate-induced ROS accumulation was diminished by EUE or its active components, aucubin and geniposide (Figure S3). Because the palmitateinduced cell death mechanism includes the lysosomal pathway and EUE regulates cell death through lysosomal activation [24], were added to cell monolayers and intravesicular H+ uptake was initiated by the addition of Mg-ATP (C); the fluorescence was quantified at 24 hours (C; right). Cells were treated with 500 mM palmitate in the presence or absence of 10 mg/mL aucubin or geniposide for 0, 12, 24, or 48 hours and the level of a-galactosidase, a-mannosidase, or acid phosphatase was measured (D). *p,0.05, significantly different from palmitate-treated condition. Con; control, Pal.; palmitate. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088017.g006 we examined the effect of the active components, aucubin and geniposide, on lysosomal activation. First, lysosomal V-ATPase activity was analyzed through the acridine quenching method. Although V-ATPase activity was inhibited by palmitate, either aucubin or geniposide could reverse that effect (Fig. 6A). LysoTracker dye analysis revealed that aucubin and geniposide significantly rescued the reduction in lysosomal integrity that was induced by palmitate (Fig. 6B). Treatment with aucubin or geniposide also recovered the palmitate-induced decrease in intravesicular H+ uptake as measured with the acridine orange dye loading assay (Fig. 6C). Finally, the activities of the lysosomal enzymes a-galactosidase, a-mannosidase, and acid phosphatase in palmitate-treated cells were rescued by co-treatment with aucubin or geniposide (Fig. 6D). EUE Reduces Hepatic Lipotoxicity in Rats Fed a High-fat Diet To examine the physiological relevance of these in vitro observations, we examined the effect of EUE on hepatic lipotoxicity in rats fed a high-fat diet. In this study, we selected a 25% ethanol reflux method for EUE, which provides the highest content of the active constituent aucubin (data not shown). EUE was orally administered to rats fed a high-fat diet (0.25, 0.5, and 1 EUE/kg/day). Dihydroethidium (DHE) analysis (Fig. 7A) showed that EUE inhibited the high-fat diet-induced ROS accumulation in a dose-dependent manner. Similarly, EUE decreased hepatic lipid peroxidation (Fig. 7B) and inhibited the high-fat diet-induced increase in caspase-3 activation and active caspase-3 and -9 expression (Figs. 7C, D). Expression of the hepatic toxicity markers AST and ALT was also down-regulated by the extract (Fig. 7E). Consistent with results for BAX localization in vitro, EUE regulated the lysosomal translocation of BAX in the high-fat diet-treated condition (Fig. 7F). Hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining revealed structural changes in rats fed a high-fat diet, which were reduced by co-feeding with EUE (Supplementary Fig. 4). EUE also markedly decreased the hepatic lipid content, as determined by hepatic triglyceride and cholesterol levels (Figure S5). These data demonstrate the function of EUE in a well-developed hepatic lipotoxicity model. In this study, the protective role of EUE against hepatic lipotoxicity was examined in hepatic cell and an animal model system. Based on a BAX-screening assay in yeast cells, EUE was selected as a regulator of BAX-induced cell death. In the human hepatic cell line, HepG2, EUE regulated palmitate-induced lysosomal BAX localization and the cathepsin B-associated cell death pathway. The active components of EUE, aucubin and geniposide, showed similar effects to those of EUE. EUE also regulated high-fat diet-induced hepatic toxicity in rats, in which the lysosomal location of BAX was inhibited by EUE. Lysosomal activity was highly enhanced in the presence of EUE. These data suggest the regulatory mechanism by which EUE protects against hepatic lipotoxicity in both in vivo and in vitro studies. Previous studies demonstrated that free fatty acids result in lysosomal membrane permeabilization and the release of cathepsin B into the cytosol due to lysosomal translocation of BAX [4,17]. Our studies showed that lysosomal localization of BAX induced by palmitate exposure led to lysosomal membrane permeabilization and a rapid increase in the abundance of cleaved Bid and stimulation of caspase-3 and -9 activity. These findings are all in accordance with previously published evidence that lysosomal BAX is associated with mitochondria-dependent cell death pathways through the mitochondrial localization of BAX, Bid cleavage, and associated caspase activation and cell death [25,26]. Lysosomes contain a large number of hydrolases in an acidic pH environment and their role in mitochondria-dependent cell death pathways is well recognized [27]. Similarly, functional disorders of various organelles other than the mitochondria, including the ER, Golgi apparatus, and lysosomes, can also trigger mitochondria-dependent caspase activation and consequent apoptotic cell death. Data from a yeast model showed that EUE regulated human BAX-induced cell death (Figure S1A, B, C). Consistent with these data, EUE regulated subcellular translocation of BAX in a GFPBAX-overexpressing cell system, in particular lysosomal BAX localization induced by free fatty acids (data not shown, Figs. 1B, C, D), a main finding of this study. We show that EUE regulates the sequential events in lysosomal cell death signal transduction in palmitate-treated cultured hepatic cells (Figs. 2E, H, I). Consistent with previous studies, our results indicate that lysosomal BAX localization contributes to loss of lysosomal integrity and cathepsin B release, and show that EUE regulates these events through the inhibition of lysosomal BAX localization. We further show that the active components of EUE, aucubin and geniposide, have similar effects on the regulation of lysosomal BAX-associated cell death to those of EUE (Figs. 5 and 6). In this study, we aimed to reveal the importance of lysosomal activity in controlling lysosomal BAX activation and associated cell death. Treatment with the V-ATPase inhibitor, bafilomycin, blocked the EUE-induced protective effect and regulation of lysosomal BAX and t-Bid locations under conditions of free fatty acids (Figs. 4C, E, F), indicating that EUE-induced activation of V-ATPase contributes to the regulation of lysosomal BAX translocation. These data suggest that modification of lysosomal activity, such as V-ATPase activity, can affect the localization of BAX and the related lysosome permeability and plays an important role in the protective function of EUE against free fatty acid-induced cell death. The vacuolar H+-ATPase establishes pH gradients along secretory and degradation pathways. Considering that progressive acidification is essential for proteolytic processing in lysosomes [28], V-ATPase could be a major contributor to lysosomal function. However, the mechanism by which EUE induces increases in the activities of lysosomal VATPase and other lysosomal functions remains unknown. To investigate whether these in vitro effects of EUE correlate with its activity in vivo, we applied EUE to a high-fat diet-induced NAFLD model in rats. Hepatic ROS accumulation, lipid peroxidation, and their associated cell death phenotypes, including caspase 3 and 9 activation, were significantly inhibited by EUE (Figs. 7A, B, C, D). EUE also regulated lysosomal BAX translocation in the NAFLD rat model (Fig. 7F). Similarly, it has been reported that EUE decreases serum GOT, GPT, LDH, and ALP levels in a liver damage model [29]. In previous studies using a high-fat diet model, hepatic fatty acid synthase and HMG-CoA Figure 7. EUE reduces hepatic lipotoxicity in rats fed a high-fat diet. Rats were given a normal diet or a high-fat diet with or without 0.25, 0.5, or 1 g/kg EUE for 10 weeks, and serum and livers were harvested. Liver tissues were loaded with 5 mM dihydroethidium and fluorescence image acquisition was performed (A). Liver tissue was subjected to lipid peroxidation assay (B), caspase-3 activity assay (C), and immunoblotting with antibody against caspase-3, -9, or b-actin (D). Serum levels of AST and ALT were measured (E). Following subcellular fractionation, immunoblotting with antibody against BAX, t-Bid, PDI, COX II, or LAMP-1 was performed (F). *p,0.05, significantly different from high-fat diet. HFD; high fat diet, EUE; Eucommia ulmoides Oliver extract. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088017.g007 reductase activities were significantly decreased by EUE, demonstrating that the extract exhibits antihyperlipidemic properties, whereas high levels of erythrocyte superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) activities were observed [30,31]. In addition, another EUE extract was reported to have protective effects against a hepatic injury model [32]. In a study of patients with NASH and persistently elevated transaminases, treatment with EUE produced a statistically significant reduction in ALT values compared with the placebo group [9]. Although there have been a number of studies on EUE, its function in terms of lipotoxicity has not been clarified. Based on the results of this study demonstrating the mechanism of EUE in a lipotoxicity model, EUE can be suggested as a potential candidate for the treatment of lipid accumulation-associated toxicity. In conclusion, this study supports a basic mechanism of fatty acid-associated lysosomal BAX localization and resultant cathepsin B leakage and cell death in a NAFLD model. We propose that EUE and its active constituents, aucubin and geniposide, enhance lysosomal activity and regulate lysosomal BAX translocation, leading to resistance against hepatic lipotoxicity. EUE appears to be a viable treatment strategy to prevent or treat NAFLD and its associated toxic conditions. Supporting Information Figure S1 EUE protects against BAX-induced cell death in both yeast and human cells. Human BAX was transformed into yeast cells. Immunoblotting was performed with anti-BAX antibody (A, left). Yeast cells containing YEp51-Bax and p426-GPD plasmids were grown overnight in SC-U-L/glucose. Cultures were spread onto SDMM or SGMM plates (A, right). Yeast cells expressing YEp51-Bax were cultured with 50 mg/mL EUE for 16 hours, and cell viability assay was performed as described in Materials and Methods. EUE was serially diluted to 50, 5, 0.5 or 0.05 mg/mL, and 4 mL was dropped onto SDMM or SGMM plates. After drying, BAX-containing yeast cells were dropped onto the SDMM or SGMM plates (C). *p,0.05, significantly different from BAX-expressed condition; CBB, Coomassie Brilliant Blue; SDMM; SC-U-L/glucose medium, SGMM; SC-U-L/galactose medium, Pal.; palmitate, EUE; Eucommia ulmoides Oliver extract, Arrow; indicating BAXexpressed dead cells (no spreading pattern). (TIF) Figure S2 EUE active components geniposide and aucubin regulate palmitate-induced lysosomal permeability. Cells were incubated with 500 mM palmitate in the presence or absence of 10 mg/mL aucubin or geniposide for 24 hours. Immunostaining was performed with anti-LAMP-1 antibody and subsequently with anti-cathepsin B antibody. Subsequently, secondary FITC or TRITIC antibody was used. The fluorescence of images was captured by microscope at 200 X original magnification. Con; control, Pal.; Palmitate. (TIF) Figure S3 EUE and the active components, geniposide and aucubin, regulate palmitate-induced mitochondrial ROS accumulation. Cells were incubated with 500 mM palmitate in the presence or absence of 100 mg/mL EUE, 10 mg/mL aucubin or geniposide for 24 or 48 hours. DCF-DA, 100 mg/mL, was loaded into the cells, and after 20 minutes the fluorescence was measured as described in Materials and Methods. Con; control, Pal.; Palmitate, EUE; Eucommia ulmoides Oliver extract. (TIF) Figure S4 EUE does not induce morphological changes in rats on a high-fat diet. Rats were administrated a normal diet or high-fat diet with or without 0.25, 0.5 or 1 g/kg EUE for ten weeks, and livers were then isolated. Hematoxylin and eosin staining was performed. Con; control, EUE; Eucommia ulmoides Oliver extract, HFD; high fat diet. (TIF) Figure S5 EUE regulates hepatic lipid accumulation. Rats were administrated a normal diet or high-fat diet with or without 0.25, 0.5 or 1 g/kg EUE for ten weeks, and livers were then isolated. Triglyceride and cholesterol levels were measured in the liver as described in the Supplementary Materials and Methods. EUE; Eucommia ulmoides Oliver extract, HFD; high fat diet. (TIF) Supplementary Materials and Method. Conceived and designed the experiments: GHL MRL. Performed the experiments: GHL MRL HYL. Analyzed the data: GHL MRL. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: SHK HKK HRK. Wrote the paper: HJC. 1. 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Geum-Hwa Lee, Mi-Rin Lee, Hwa-Young Lee, Seung Hyun Kim, Hye-Kyung Kim, Hyung-Ryong Kim, Han-Jung Chae. Eucommia ulmoides Cortex, Geniposide and Aucubin Regulate Lipotoxicity through the Inhibition of Lysosomal BAX, PLOS ONE, 2014, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088017