Sertraline induces endoplasmic reticulum stress in hepatic cells

Si Chen, Jiekun Xuan, Letha Couch, Advait Iyer, Yuanfeng Wu, Quan Zhen Li, Lei Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Sertraline is used for the treatment of depression, and is also used for the treatment of panic, obsessive-compulsive, and post-traumatic stress disorders. Previously, we have demonstrated that sertraline caused hepatic cytotoxicity, with mitochondrial dysfunction and apoptosis being underlying mechanisms. In this study, we used microarray and other biochemical and molecular analyses to identify endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress as a novel molecular mechanism. HepG2 cells were exposed to sertraline and subjected to whole genome gene expression microarray analysis. Pathway analysis revealed that ER stress is among the significantly affected biological changes. We confirmed the increased expression of ER stress makers by real-time PCR and Western blots. The expression of typical ER stress markers such as PERK, IRE1α, and CHOP was significantly increased. To study better ER stress-mediated drug-induced liver toxicity; we established in vitro systems for monitoring ER stress quantitatively and efficiently, using Gaussia luciferase (Gluc) and secreted alkaline phosphatase (SEAP) as ER stress reporters. These in vitro systems were validated using well-known ER stress inducers. In these two reporter assays, sertraline inhibited the secretion of Gluc and SEAP. Moreover, we demonstrated that sertraline-induced apoptosis was coupled to ER stress and that the apoptotic effect was attenuated by 4-phenylbutyrate, a potent ER stress inhibitor. In addition, we showed that the MAP4K4-JNK signaling pathway contributed to the process of sertraline-induced ER stress. In summary, we demonstrated that ER stress is a mechanism of sertraline-induced liver toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-88
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Aug 1 2014


  • Apoptosis
  • Drug-induced liver toxicity
  • Endoplasmic reticulum stress
  • MAPK pathway
  • Reporter gene assay
  • Sertraline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


Dive into the research topics of 'Sertraline induces endoplasmic reticulum stress in hepatic cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this