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New paper out on EGFR-signaling protecting from liver injury

Emilio Casanova contributed to a recent manuscript demonstrating that STAT3 protects from cholestatic liver injury. Specific ablation of STAT3 in liver cells aggravated liver damage and fibrosis in a mouse model for cholestatic disease. Upregulation of bile acid biosynthesis genes and downregulation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expression were observed, the functional consequences of these processes in cholestatic liver injury remained unclear. Here, we show STAT3-deficient hepatocytes displayed increased sensitivity to bile acid-induced apoptosis in vitro. Since EGFR signaling has been reported to protect hepatocytes from bile acid-induced apoptosis, we generated mice with hepatocyte/cholangiocyte-specific ablation of EGFR (EGFR∆hc) and crossed them to the disease model. Importantly, deletion of EGFR phenocopied deletion of STAT3 and led to aggravated liver damage, liver fibrosis, and hyperproliferation of K19+ cholangiocytes. Our data demonstrate hepatoprotective functions of the STAT3-EGFR signaling axis in cholestatic liver disease.