Intracellular HMGB1 inhibits inflammatory nucleosome release and limits acute pancreatitis in mice

Rui Kang, Qiuhong Zhang, Wen Hou, Zhenwen Yan, Ruochan Chen, Jillian Bonaroti, Preeti Bansal, Timothy R. Billiar, Allan Tsung, Qingde Wang, David L. Bartlett, David C. Whitcomb, Eugene B. Chang, Xiaorong Zhu, Haichao Wang, Ben Lu, Kevin J. Tracey, Lizhi Cao, Xue Gong Fan, Michael T. LotzeHerbert J. Zeh, Daolin Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

167 Scopus citations


Background & Aims High mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) is an abundant protein that regulates chromosome architecture and also functions as a damage-associated molecular pattern molecule. Little is known about its intracellular roles in response to tissue injury or during subsequent local and systemic inflammatory responses. We investigated the function of Hmgb1 in mice after induction of acute pancreatitis. Methods We utilized a Cre/LoxP system to create mice with pancreas-specific disruption in Hmbg1 (Pdx1-Cre; HMGB1 flox/flox mice). Acute pancreatitis was induced in these mice (HMGB1flox/flox mice served as controls) after injection of l-arginine or cerulein. Pancreatic tissues and acinar cells were collected and analyzed by histologic, immunoblot, and immunohistochemical analyses. Results After injection of l-arginine or cerulein, Pdx1-Cre; HMGB1flox/flox mice developed acute pancreatitis more rapidly than controls, with increased mortality. Pancreatic tissues of these mice also had higher levels of serum amylase, acinar cell death, leukocyte infiltration, and interstitial edema than controls. Pancreatic tissues and acinar cells collected from the Pdx1-Cre; HMGB1flox/flox mice after l-arginine or cerulein injection demonstrated nuclear catastrophe with greater nucleosome release when compared with controls, along with increased phosphorylation/activation of RELA nuclear factor κB, degradation of inhibitor of κB, and phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase. Inhibitors of reactive oxygen species (N-acetyl-l-cysteine) blocked l-arginine-induced DNA damage, necrosis, apoptosis, release of nucleosomes, and activation of nuclear factor κB in pancreatic tissues and acinar cells from Pdx1-Cre; HMGB1flox/flox and control mice. Exogenous genomic DNA and recombinant histone H3 proteins significantly induced release of HMGB1 from mouse macrophages; administration of antibodies against H3 to mice reduced serum levels of HMGB1 and increased survival after l-arginine injection. Conclusions In 2 mouse models of acute pancreatitis, intracellular HMGB1 appeared to prevent nuclear catastrophe and release of inflammatory nucleosomes to block inflammation. These findings indicate a role for the innate immune response in tissue damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1097-1107.e8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA Damage
  • Nuclear Factor κB
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Pancreatitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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