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Aghdassi, Ali A.; John, Daniel S.; Sendler, Matthias; Weiss, F. Ulrich; Reinheckel, Thomas; Mayerle, Julia; Lerch, Markus M. (2018): Cathepsin D regulates cathepsin B activation and disease severity predominantly in inflammatory cells during experimental pancreatitis. In: Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol. 293, No. 3: pp. 1018-1029
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Abstract

Acute pancreatitis is a complex disorder involving both premature intracellular protease activation and inflammatory cell invasion. An initiating event is the intracellular activation of trypsinogen by cathepsin B (CTSB), which can be induced directly via G protein-coupled receptors on acinar cells or through inflammatory cells. Here, we studied CTSB regulation by another lysosomal hydrolase, cathepsin D (CTSD), using mice with a complete (CTSD-/-) or pancreas-specific conditional CTSD knockout (KO) (CTSD(f/f/)p48(Cre/+)). We induced acute pancreatitis by repeated caerulein injections and isolated acinar and bone marrow cells for ex vivo studies. Supramaximal caerulein stimulation induced subcellular redistribution of CTSD from the lysosomal to the zymogen-containing subcellular compartment of acinar cells and activation of CTSD, CTSB, and trypsinogen. Of note, the CTSD KO greatly reduced CTSB and trypsinogen activation in acinar cells, and CTSD directly activated CTSB but not trypsinogen in vitro. During pancreatitis in pancreas-specific CTSD(f/f/)p48(Cre/+) animals, markers of severity were reduced only at 1 h, whereas in the complete KO, this effect also included the late disease phase (8 h), indicating an important effect of extra-acinar CTSD on course of the disease. CTSD-/- leukocytes exhibited reduced cytokine release after lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation, and CTSD KO also reduced caspase-3 activation and apoptosis in acinar cells stimulated with the intestinal hormone cholecystokinin. In summary, CTSD is expressed in pancreatic acinar and inflammatory cells, undergoes subcellular redistribution and activation during experimental pancreatitis, and regulates disease severity by potently activating CTSB. Its impact is only minimal and transient in the early, acinar cell-dependent phase of pancreatitis and much greater in the later, inflammatory cell-dependent phase of the disease.