Selective Suppression of NF-kBp65 in Hepatitis Virus-Infected Pregnant Women Manifesting Severe Liver Damage and High Mortality
Fulminant hepatitis in Asian pregnant women is generally caused by hepatitis E virus infection, and extremely high mortality is most common in them. Decreased cell-mediated immunity is considered a major cause of death in these cases, but what exactly influences decreased immunity and high mortality specifically during pregnancy is not known. We used electrophoretic mobility shift assays, immunoblotting, and immunohistochemical analysis to study the expression and DNA binding activity of NF-kB p50 and NF-kB p65 in pregnant fulminant hepatic failure (FHF) patients and compared them with their nonpregnant counterparts. In both PBMC and postmortem liver biopsy specimens the DNA-binding activity of NF-kB was very high in samples from pregnant FHF patients compared with those from nonpregnant women as well as pregnant women with acute viral hepatitis (AVH) without FHF. Further dissection of the NF-kB complex in supershift assays demonstrated complete absence of p65 in the NF-kB complex, which is formed by homodimerization of the p50 component in pregnant FHF patients. Western blotting and immunohistochemical analysis of the expression of p50 and p65 proteins both showed higher levels of p50 expression and a complete absence or a minimal expression of p65, indicating its nonparticipation in NF-kB-dependent transactivation in pregnant FHF patients. We suggest that the exclusion of p65 from the NF-kB transactivation complex seems to be a crucial step that may cause deregulated immunity and severe liver damage, leading to the death of the patient. Our findings provide a molecular basis, for developing novel therapeutic approaches.
The study was funded by Indian Council of Medical Research and Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, New Delhi. BKP received SRF funding from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Government of India. Authors thank Dr. Alok C. Bharti for critical discussion.
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