Parathyroid hormone-related protein activates HSCs via hedgehog signalling during liver fibrosis development

Recently, we showed that parathyroid hormone-like hormone (PTHLH), a cytokine-like polyprotein, is critical for extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition through the activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs). Here, we show that N-terminal PTHLH is secreted into the supernatant of injured hepatocytes, its expression is positively correlated with liver fibrosis severity based on mice liver biopsies, and it is primarily expressed in the cytoplasm of hepatocytes along the fibrous septa of fibrotic livers. PTHLH overexpression in mice was achieved through adeno-associated virus-mediated gene delivery (AAV9-PTHLH), and liver fibrosis was induced with carbon tetrachloride (CCl4). We observed that AAV9-PTHLH induced spontaneous development of liver fibrosis and increased sensitivity to CCl4. PTHLH increased Hedgehog (Hh) pathway activation in a PTH1R-dependent manner, and the effect of PTHLH was primarily mediated by protein kinase C (PKC) θ. PTHLH-mediated PTH1R-PKC θ pathway activation is a key event in the profibrotic Hh-dependent activation of HSCs.