The western diet and overuse of anti-inflammatory medication have caused a great deal of stress on the liver. Obesity and the associated inflammatory state in insulin-responsive tissues result in the release of pro-inflammatory cytokine that activates the stress-responsive MAPKs, p38 MAPK, and JNK. These MAPKs have figured prominently as critical effectors in physiological and pathophysiological hepatic inflammation. In contrast, evidence for a role for ERK1/2 in hepatic inflammation has been less well developed. In this review article, we describe recent insights into the physiology and pathophysiology of the role of stress-responsive MAPKs in hepatic inflammation during obesity and liver injury with a focus on macrophages, hepatocytes and hepatic stellate cells. In response to metabolic stress and liver injury, JNK activation in macrophages and hepatocytes promotes the secretion of inflammatory cytokines and macrophage and neutrophil infiltration. p38 MAPK plays an important role in contributing to the progression of hepatic inflammation in response to various hepatic cellular stresses, although the precise substrates mediating these effects in hepatocytes and hepatic stellate cells remain to be identified. Both JNK and p38 MAPK promotes profibrotic behavior in hepatic stellate cells.
MAP kinase, Hepatic inflammation, Obesity, Liver injury