Antifibrotic Effects of a Recombinant Adeno-Associated Virus Carrying Small Interfering RNA Targeting TIMP-1 in Rat Liver Fibrosis
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Elevated tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1 (TIMP-1) expression contributes to excess production of extracellular matrix in liver fibrosis. Herein, we constructed a recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) carrying siRNA of the TIMP-1 gene (rAAV/siRNA-TIMP-1) and investigated its effects on liver fibrosis in rats. Two models of rat liver fibrosis, the carbon tetrachloride and bile duct ligation models, were treated with rAAV/siRNA-TIMP-1. In the carbon tetrachloride model, rAAV/siRNA-TIMP-1 administration attenuated fibrosis severity, as determined by histologic analysis of hepatic collagen accumulation, hydroxyproline content, and concentrations of types I and III collagen in livers and sera. Levels of mRNA and active matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) 13 were elevated, whereas levels of mRNA and active MMP-2 were decreased. Moreover, a marked decrease was noted in the expression of α-smooth muscle actin, a biomarker of activated hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), and transforming growth factor-β1, critical for the development of liver fibrosis. Similarly, rAAV/siRNA-TIMP-1 treatment significantly alleviated bile duct ligation-induced liver fibrosis. Furthermore, this treatment dramatically suppressed TIMP-1 expression in HSCs from both model rats. These data indicate that the administration of rAAV/siRNA-TIMP-1 attenuated liver fibrosis by directly elevating the function of MMP-13 and diminishing activated HSCs. It also resulted in indirect decreased expression of type I collagen, MMP-2, and transforming growth factor-β1. In conclusion, rAAV/siRNA-TIMP-1 may be an effective antifibrotic gene therapy agent.