Protective Role of RIPK1 Scaffolding against HDV-Induced Hepatocyte cell death and the Significance of Cytokines in Mice

This article has been Reviewed by the following groups

Read the full article See related articles

Listed in

Log in to save this article


Hepatitis delta virus (HDV) infection represents the most severe form of human viral hepatitis; however, the mechanisms underlying its pathology remain incompletely understood. We recently developed an HDV mouse model by injecting adeno-associated viral vectors (AAV) containing replication-competent HBV and HDV genomes. This model replicates many features of human infection, including liver injury. Notably, the extent of liver damage can be diminished with anti-TNF-α treatment. In the present study, we found that TNF-α is mainly produced by macrophages. Downstream of the TNF-α receptor (TNFR), the receptor-interacting serine/threonine-protein kinase 1 (RIPK1) serves as a cell fate regulator, playing roles in both cell survival and death pathways. In this study, we explored the function of RIPK1 and other host factors in HDV-induced cell death. We determined that the scaffolding function of RIPK1, and not its kinase activity, offers partial protection against HDV-induced apoptosis. A reduction in RIPK1 expression in hepatocytes through Cas9-mediated gene editing significantly intensifies HDV-induced damage. Contrary to our expectations, the protective effect of RIPK1 was not linked to TNF-α or macrophage activation, as their absence did not alter the extent of damage. Intriguingly, in the absence of RIPK1, macrophages confer a protective role. However, in animals unresponsive to type-I IFNs, RIPK1 downregulation did not exacerbate the damage, suggesting RIPK1’s role in shielding hepatocytes from type-I IFN-induced cell death. Interestingly, while the damage extent is similar between IFNAR KO and WT mice in terms of transaminase elevation, their cell death mechanisms differ. In conclusion, our findings reveal that HDV-induced type-I IFN production is central to inducing hepatocyte death, and RIPK1’s scaffolding function offers protective benefits. Thus, type-I IFN together with TNF-α, contribute to HDV-induced liver damage. These insights may guide the development of novel therapeutic strategies to mitigate HDV-induced liver damage and halt disease progression.

Author summary

Hepatitis D is the most aggressive form of viral hepatitis. Our manuscript underscores the complexity of HDV-induced liver damage, where both viral and host factors play significant roles. Previously, we demonstrated that pharmacological inhibition of TNF-α reduced HDV-induced liver damage. This result was corroborated in the present study using TNF-α-deficient mice. Moreover, we reported that the expression of the HDV antigen might have a cytotoxic effect, and HDV replication induces a strong activation of the innate immune system, accompanied by a substantial production of IFN-β. In this study, we discovered that RIPK1, a molecule described as a cell fate modulator acting downstream of TNF-α, plays a protective role during HDV replication. Contrary to our expectations, neither TNF-α nor macrophages, the primary producers of TNF-α, contributed to this protective effect. Instead, it seems type I IFN was involved. Interestingly, the role of type I IFN in HBV-induced liver damage has recently been proposed. Furthermore, our data reveals that several mechanisms of hepatocyte death are at play simultaneously during HDV replication, with apoptosis being one of them. Additional studies are needed to identify other mechanisms involved. Finally, these findings suggest that therapies targeting TNF-α and type-I IFN, or those increasing RIPK1 levels, might be effective in preventing or treating HDV-induced liver damage.

Article activity feed

  1. Anonymous

    Review 1: "Protective Role of RIPK1 Scaffolding against HDV-Induced Hepatocyte Cell Death and the Significance of Cytokines in Mice"

    The reviewer found the study potentially informative, examining the role of RIPK1 in hepatitis delta virus (HDV) induced cell death and liver injury. While the manuscript was considered interesting, the reviewer identified several issues that need addressing.