Histone Deacetylase 4 Controls Extracellular Matrix Production in Orbital Fibroblasts from Graves' Ophthalmopathy Patients

Supanuch Ekronarongchai, Tanapat Palaga, Preamjit Saonanon, Vannakorn Pruksakorn, Nattiya Hirankarn, P. Martin Van Hagen, Willem A. Dik, Sita Virakul*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Graves' ophthalmopathy (GO) is an autoimmune eye disease with the characteristic symptoms of eyelid retraction and proptosis. Orbital fibroblast activation induced by platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB) stimulation plays a crucial role in GO pathogenesis, leading to excessive proliferation and extracellular matrix production by orbital fibroblasts. Currently, GO treatment options remain limited and novel therapies including targeted drugs are needed. Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are associated with the development and progression of several cancers and autoimmune diseases by epigenetically controlling gene transcription, and HDAC inhibitors (HDACis) may have therapeutic potential. Nevertheless, the role of HDACs in orbital fibroblasts from GO is unknown. Therefore, we studied the expression of HDACs as well as their contribution to extracellular matrix production in orbital fibroblasts. Methods: Orbital tissues were obtained from GO patients (n = 18) who underwent decompression surgery with approval from the Institutional Review Board of the Faculty of Medicine (Protocol number 401/61), Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok, Thailand). Furthermore, orbital tissue was obtained from control patients (n = 3) without inflammatory or thyroid disease who underwent surgery for cosmetic reasons. Orbital fibroblast cultures were established from the orbital tissues. HDAC mRNA and protein expression in orbital fibroblasts was analyzed by reverse transcription-quantitative real-time PCR and Western blot. PDGF-BB-activated orbital fibroblast and orbital tissues were treated with HDACis or HDAC4 small-interfering RNA. Results: PDGF-BB-stimulated orbital fibroblasts had upregulated HDAC4 mRNA and protein expression. HDAC4 mRNA expression was significantly higher in GO compared with healthy control orbital fibroblasts. Histone H3 lysine 9 acetylation (H3K9ac) decreased upon PDGF-BB stimulation. Treatment with HDAC4i (tasquinimod) and HDAC4/5i (LMK-235) significantly decreased both proliferation and hyaluronan production in PDGF-BB-stimulated orbital fibroblasts. HDAC4 silencing reduced mRNA expression of hyaluronan synthase 2 (HAS2), collagen type I alpha 1 chain (COL1A1), Ki67, and α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), as well as hyaluronan production in PDGF-BB-stimulated orbital fibroblasts. Tasquinimod significantly reduced HAS2 and α-SMA mRNA expression in whole orbital tissue. Conclusion: Our data indicated, for the first time, that altered HDAC4 regulation along with H3K9 hypoacetylation might represent a mechanism that contributes to excessive proliferation and extracellular matrix production by orbital fibroblasts in GO. HDAC4 might represent a novel target for GO therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1566-1576
Number of pages11
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Ratchadapisek Sompoch Endowment (760001-HR), the 72nd anniversary of his Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and the 90th anniversary of Chulalongkorn University Funds, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand as well as the TSRI Fund (CU-FRB640001-01-23-1) and the National Research Council of Thailand.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers 2021.


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