Trypsin-Mediated Sensitization to Ferroptosis Increases the Severity of Pancreatitis in Mice

Ke Liu, Jiao Liu, Borong Zou, Changfeng Li, Herbert J. Zeh, Rui Kang, Guido Kroemer, Jun Huang, Daolin Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Pancreatitis is characterized by acinar cell death and persistent inflammation. Ferroptosis is a type of lipid peroxidation-dependent necrosis, which is negatively regulated by glutathione peroxidase 4. We studied how trypsin, a serine protease secreted by pancreatic acinar cells, affects the contribution of ferroptosis to triggering pancreatitis. Methods: In vitro, the mouse pancreatic acinar cell line 266-6 and mouse primary pancreatic acinar cells were used to investigate the effect of exogenous trypsin on ferroptosis sensitivity. Short hairpin RNAs were designed to silence gene expression, whereas a library of 1080 approved drugs was used to identify new ferroptosis inhibitors in 266-6 cells. In vivo, a Cre/LoxP system was used to generate mice with a pancreas-specific knockout of Gpx4 (Pdx1-Cre;Gpx4flox/flox mice). Acute or chronic pancreatitis was induced in these mice (Gpx4flox/flox mice served as controls) by cerulein injections or a Lieber–DeCarli alcoholic liquid diet. Pancreatic tissues, acinar cells, and serum were collected and analyzed by histology, immunoblot, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, or immunohistochemical analyses. Results: Supraphysiological doses of trypsin (500 or 1000 ng/mL) alone did not trigger significant cell death in 266-6 cells and mouse primary pancreatic acinar cells, but did increase the sensitivity of these cells to ferroptosis upon treatment with cerulein, L-arginine, alcohol, erastin, or RSL3. Proteasome 26S subunit, non–adenosine triphosphatase 4–dependent lipid peroxidation caused ferroptosis in pancreatic acinar cells by promoting the proteasomal degradation of glutathione peroxidase 4. The drug screening campaign identified the antipsychotic drug olanzapine as an antioxidant inhibiting ferroptosis in pancreatic acinar cells. Mice lacking pancreatic Gpx4 developed more severe pancreatitis after cerulein infection or ethanol feeding than control mice. Conversely, olanzapine administration protected against pancreatic ferroptotic damage and experimental pancreatitis in Gpx4-deficient mice. Conclusions: Trypsin-mediated sensitization to ferroptotic damage increases the severity of pancreatitis in mice, and this process can be reversed by olanzapine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-500
Number of pages18
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Acinar Cells
  • Animal Model
  • Cell Death
  • Digestive Enzyme
  • Sterile Inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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