The inhibitory effect of rapamycin on the oval cell response and development of preneoplastic foci in the rat.
ABSTRACT: Oval cell activation occurs under conditions of severe liver injury when normal hepatocyte proliferation is blocked. Recent studies have shown that a subset of hepatocellular carcinomas expresses oval cell markers, suggesting that these cells are targets of hepatocarcinogens. However, the signaling pathways that control oval cell activation and proliferation are not well characterized. Based on the role of the nutrient signaling kinase complex, mTORC1, in liver development, we investigated the role of this pathway in oval cell activation. Oval cell proliferation was induced in male Fisher rats by a modification of the traditional choline deficient plus ethionine model (CDE) or by 2-acetylaminoflourene treatment followed by 2/3 partial hepatectomy with or without initiation by diethylnitrosamine. To assess the role of mTOR in the oval cell response and development of preneoplastic foci, the effect of the mTORC1 inhibitor, rapamycin, was studied in all models. Rapamycin induced a significant suppression of the oval cell response in both models, an effect that coincided with a decrease in oval cell proliferation. Rapamycin administration did not affect the abundance of neutrophils or natural killer cells in CDE-treated liver or the expression of key cytokines. Gene expression studies revealed the fetal hepatocyte marker MKP-4 to be expressed in oval cells. In an experimental model of hepatic carcinogenesis, rapamycin decreased the size of preneoplastic foci and the rate of cell proliferation within the foci. mTORC1 signaling plays a key role in the oval cell response and in the development of preneoplastic foci. This pathway may be a target for the chemoprevention of hepatocellular carcinoma.
Project description:Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a heterogeneous disease in which tumor subtypes can be identified based on the presence of adult liver progenitor cells. Having previously identified the mTOR pathway as critical to progenitor cell proliferation in a model of liver injury, we investigated the temporal activation of mTOR signaling in a rat model of hepatic carcinogenesis. The model employed chemical carcinogens and partial hepatectomy to induce progenitor marker-positive HCC. Immunohistochemical staining for phosphorylated ribosomal protein S6 indicated robust mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) activity in early preneoplastic lesions that peaked during the first week and waned over the subsequent 10 days. Continuous administration of rapamycin by subcutaneous pellet for 70 days markedly reduced the development of focal lesions, but resulted in activation of the PI3K signaling pathway. To test the hypothesis that early mTORC1 activation was critical to the development and progression of preneoplastic foci, we limited rapamycin administration to the 3-week period at the start of the protocol. Focal lesion burden was reduced to a degree indistinguishable from that seen with continuous administration. Short-term rapamycin did not result in the activation of PI3K or mTORC2 pathways. Microarray analysis revealed a persistent effect of short-term mTORC1 inhibition on gene expression that resulted in a genetic signature reminiscent of normal liver. We conclude that mTORC1 activation during the early stages of hepatic carcinogenesis may be critical due to the development of preneoplastic focal lesions in progenitor marker-positive HCC. mTORC1 inhibition may represent an effective chemopreventive strategy for this form of liver cancer.
Project description:The age dependence of the oval cell response and bile duct carcinomas of male F344 rats exposed to a cyclic choline deficiency-ethionine (CDE) diet (2 weeks on, 1 week off) supports the concept of loss of potential of liver stem cells to form cancers with aging. Livers of rats exposed at 3 weeks of age demonstrated a robust and widespread oval cell proliferation followed by cholangiofibrosis and bile duct metaplasia with extensive mucinous cysts throughout all lobes, and induction of cholangiocarcinomas (CCAs) in seven of eight rats. Livers of rats exposed beginning at 8 weeks of age had much less oval cell response and cholangiofibrosis with only 1 of 15 rats developing a CCA. Livers in old (10-12 months when started) rats remained virtually unaffected, with minimal oval cell proliferation, only occasional and small foci of ductular dysplasia, and none of 16 rats developed CCAs. In contrast to most published studies using uninterrupted choline deficiency plus a carcinogen, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) was not observed under the conditions of this study.With aging, male F344 rats exposed to cyclic CDE diet display a diminished oval cell response and fewer CCAs. The absence of HCC is possibly due to the fact that during cyclic CDE, the week off may allow putative liver stem cells to avoid death or differentiation and survive to give rise to CCAs, whereas with continuous CDE exposure, the stem cells are forced to differentiate and develop into HCCs with relatively few CCAs.
Project description:Analysis of early changes in the R-H model of carcinogenesis in order to investigate the relationship between oval cell proliferation and preneoplastic foci 2 controls, 6 Oval cells, 5 Preneoplastic foci
Project description:BACKGROUND:Proliferation of oval cells, the bipotent precursor cells of the liver, requires impeded proliferation and loss of hepatocytes as well as a specific micro-environment, provided by adjacent sinusoidal cells of liver. Despite their immense importance for triggering the oval cell response, cells of hepatic sinusoids are rarely investigated. To elucidate the response of sinusoidal liver cells we have employed a choline-deficient, ethionine-supplemented (CDE) diet, a common method for inducing an oval cell response in rodent liver. We have utilised selected expression markers commonly used in the past for phenotypic discrimination of oval cells and sinusoidal cells: cytokeratin, E-cadherin and M2-pyruvate kinase for oval cells; and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) was used for hepatic stellate cells (HSCs). RESULTS:CDE diet leads to an activation of all cells of the hepatic sinusoid in the mouse liver. Beside oval cells, also HSCs and Kupffer cells proliferate. The entire fraction of proliferating cells in mouse liver as well as endothelial cells and cholangiocytes express M2-pyruvate kinase. Concomitantly, GFAP, long considered a unique marker of quiescent HSCs was upregulated in activated HSCs and expressed also in cholangiocytes and oval cells. CONCLUSIONS:Our results point to an important role of all types of sinusoidal cells in regeneration from CDE induced liver damage and call for utmost caution in using traditional marker for identifying specific cell types. Thus, M2-pyruvate kinase should no longer be used for estimating the oval cell response in mouse liver. CDE diet leads to activation of GFAP positive HSCs in the pericentral zone of liver lobulus. In the periportal zone the detection of GFAP in biliary cells and oval cells, calls other cell types as progenitors of hepatocytes into question under CDE diet conditions.
Project description:During liver regeneration, hepatocytes are derived from pre-existing hepatocytes. However, if hepatocyte proliferation is compromised, biliary epithelial cells (BECs) become the source of new hepatocytes. We recently reported on a zebrafish liver regeneration model in which BECs extensively contribute to hepatocytes. Using this model, we performed a targeted chemical screen to identify important factors that regulate BEC-driven liver regeneration, the mechanisms of which remain largely unknown.Using Tg(fabp10a:CFP-NTR) zebrafish, we examined the effects of 44 selected compounds on BEC-driven liver regeneration. Liver size was assessed by fabp10a:DsRed expression; liver marker expression was analyzed by immunostaining, in situ hybridization and quantitative PCR. Proliferation and apoptosis were also examined. Moreover, we used a mouse liver injury model, choline-deficient, ethionine-supplemented (CDE) diet.We identified 10 compounds that affected regenerating liver size. Among them, only bromodomain and extraterminal domain (BET) inhibitors, JQ1 and iBET151, blocked both Prox1 and Hnf4a induction in BECs. BET inhibition during hepatocyte ablation blocked BEC dedifferentiation into hepatoblast-like cells (HB-LCs). Intriguingly, after JQ1 washout, liver regeneration resumed, indicating temporal, but not permanent, perturbation of liver regeneration by BET inhibition. BET inhibition after hepatocyte ablation suppressed the proliferation of newly generated hepatocytes and delayed hepatocyte maturation. Importantly, Myca overexpression, in part, rescued the proliferation defect. Furthermore, oval cell numbers in mice fed CDE diet were greatly reduced upon JQ1 administration, supporting the zebrafish findings.BET proteins regulate BEC-driven liver regeneration at multiple steps: BEC dedifferentiation, HB-LC proliferation, the proliferation of newly generated hepatocytes, and hepatocyte maturation.
Project description:Analysis of early changes in the R-H model of carcinogenesis in order to investigate the relationship between oval cell proliferation and preneoplastic foci 5 controls, 5 CK-19-negative preneoplastic nodules, 5 CK-19-positive preneoplastic nodule, 5 Preneoplastic foci
Project description:Although the expression of the stem/progenitor cell marker cytokeratin-19 (CK-19) has been associated with the worst clinical prognosis among all HCC subclasses, it is yet unknown whether its presence in HCC is the result of clonal expansion of hepatic progenitor cells (HPCs) or of de-differentiation of mature hepatocytes towards a progenitor-like cell phenotype. We addressed this question by using two rat models of hepatocarcinogenesis: the Resistant-Hepatocyte (R-H) and the Choline-methionine deficient (CMD) models. Our data indicate that the expression of CK-19 is not the result of a clonal expansion of HPCs (oval cells in rodents), but rather of a further step of preneoplastic hepatocytes towards a less differentiated phenotype and a more aggressive behavior. Indeed, although HCCs were positive for CK-19, very early preneoplastic foci (EPFs) were completely negative for this marker. While a few weeks later the vast majority of preneoplastic nodules remained CK-19 negative, a minority became positive, suggesting that CK-19 expression is the result of de-differentiation of a subset of EPFs, rather than a marker of stem/progenitor cells. Moreover, the gene expression profile of CK-19-negative EPFs clustered together with CK-19-positive nodules, but was clearly distinct from CK-19 negative nodules and oval cells.i) CK-19-positive cells are not involved in the early clonal expansion observed in rat hepatocarcinogenesis; ii) CK-19 expression arises in preneoplastic hepatocyte lesions undergoing malignant transformation; iii) CK-19 positivity in HCCs does not necessarily reflect the cell of origin of the tumor, but rather the plasticity of preneoplastic cells during the tumorigenic process.
Project description:Chronic liver injury could lead the formation of liver fibrosis, eventually some would develop to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), one of the leading malignancies worldwide. The aim of the study is to dissect the role of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2 (ERK2) signaling in liver fibrosis and inflammation. The choline-deficient, ethionine-supplemented (CDE) diet could lead to fatty livers and generate oval cells, activate hepatocyte stellate cell (HSC) and recruit immune cells as the liver fibrosis model mice. WT and ERK2 deficient (ERK2-/-) mice were compared in terms of liver weight/body weight, liver function, liver fibrosis markers and the differential gene expression in hepatotoxicity. ERK2-/- mice display the less degree of liver fibrosis when compared to WT mice. The protein level of alpha smooth muscle (?-SMA) was reduced and several hepatocellular carcinoma-related genes such as MMP9, FoxM1 were down-regulated. In addition, the cell proliferation and the percentages of activated T cells were reduced in ERK2-/- mice upon liver injury. Therefore, ERK2 plays an important role in regulating liver cirrhosis and inflammation.
Project description:AIM:To clarify the pathogenesis of ductular proliferation and its possible association with oval cell activation and hepatocyte regeneration. METHODS:Immunohistochemical staining and image analysis of the ductular structures in the liver tissues from 11 patients with severe chronic hepatitis B and 2 healthy individuals were performed. The liver specimens were sectioned serially, and then cytokeratin 8(CK8),CK19,OV6,proliferating cell nuclear antigens(PCNA), glutathione-S-transferase (GST), alpha-fetal protein (AFP) and albumin were stained immunohistochemically. RESULTS:Typical and atypical types of ductular proliferation were observed in the portal tracts of the liver tissues in all 11 patients. The proliferating ductular cells were positive for CK8, CK19, OV6 and PCNA staining. Some atypical ductular cells displayed the morphological and immunohistochemical characteristics of hepatic oval cells. Some small hepatocyte-like cells were between hepatic oval cells and mature hepatocytes morphometrically and immunohistochemically. CONCLUSION:The proliferating ductules in the liver of patients with severe chronic liver disease may have different origins. Some atypical ductular cells are actually activated hepatic oval cells. Atypical ductular proliferation is related to hepatocyte regeneration and small hepatocyte-like cells may be intermediate transient cells between hepatic oval cells and mature hepatocytes.
Project description:Progenitor ("oval") cell expansion accompanies many forms of liver injury, including alcohol toxicity and submassive parenchymal necrosis as well as experimental injury models featuring blocked hepatocyte replication. Oval cells can potentially become either hepatocytes or biliary epithelial cells and may be critical to liver regeneration, particularly when hepatocyte replication is impaired. The regulation of oval cell proliferation is incompletely understood. Herein we present evidence that a TNF family member called TWEAK (TNF-like weak inducer of apoptosis) stimulates oval cell proliferation in mouse liver through its receptor Fn14. TWEAK has no effect on mature hepatocytes and thus appears to be selective for oval cells. Transgenic mice overexpressing TWEAK in hepatocytes exhibit periportal oval cell hyperplasia. A similar phenotype was obtained in adult wild-type mice, but not Fn14-null mice, by administering TWEAK-expressing adenovirus. Oval cell expansion induced by 3,5-diethoxycarbonyl-1,4-dihydrocollidine (DDC) was significantly reduced in Fn14-null mice as well as in adult wild-type mice with a blocking anti-TWEAK mAb. Importantly, TWEAK stimulated the proliferation of an oval cell culture model. Finally, we show increased Fn14 expression in chronic hepatitis C and other human liver diseases relative to its expression in normal liver, which suggests a role for the TWEAK/Fn14 pathway in human liver injury. We conclude that TWEAK has a selective mitogenic effect for liver oval cells that distinguishes it from other previously described growth factors.