Genetic and epigenetic changes in fibrosis-associated hepatocarcinogenesis in mice.
ABSTRACT: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most prevalent cancers and is rising in incidence worldwide. The molecular mechanisms leading to the development of HCC are complex and include both genetic and epigenetic events. To determine the relative contribution of these alterations in liver tumorigenesis, we evaluated epigenetic modifications at both global and gene specific levels, as well as the mutational profile of genes commonly altered in liver tumors. A mouse model of fibrosis-associated liver cancer that was designed to emulate cirrhotic liver, a prevailing disease state observed in most humans with HCC, was used. Tumor and nontumor liver samples from B6C3F1 mice treated with N-nitrosodiethylamine (DEN; a single ip injection of 1 mg/kg at 14 days of age) and carbon tetrachloride (CCl4; 0.2 ml/kg, 2 times/week ip starting at 8 weeks of age for 14 weeks), as well as corresponding vehicle control animals, were analyzed for genetic and epigenetic alterations. H-ras, Ctnnb1 and Hnf1? genes were not mutated in tumors in mice treated with DEN+CCl4 . In contrast, the increased tumor incidence in mice treated with DEN+CCl4 was associated with marked epigenetic changes in liver tumors and nontumor liver tissue, including demethylation of genomic DNA and repetitive elements, a decrease in histone 3 lysine 9 trimethylation (H3K9me3) and promoter hypermethylation and functional downregulation of Riz1, a histone lysine methyltransferase tumor suppressor gene. Additionally, the reduction in H3K9me3 was accompanied by increased expression of long interspersed nucleotide elements 1 and short interspersed nucleotide elements B2, which is an indication of genomic instability. In summary, our results suggest that epigenetic events, rather than mutations in known cancer-related genes, play a prominent role in increased incidence of liver tumors in this mouse model of fibrosis-associated liver cancer.
Project description:Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 (TIMP-1) is upregulated during hepatic fibrogenesis and considered to promote fibrosis in the injured liver by inhibition of matrix metalloproteases (MMP) and degradation of extracellular matrix. Moreover, TIMP-1 displays anti-apoptotic properties, in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) TIMP-1 serum levels are elevated and high TIMP-1 expression levels in HCC are associated with a poor prognosis. Therefore, TIMP-1 could functionally link fibrogenesis and carcinogenesis in the liver. The aim of our study was to characterize the role of TIMP-1 in hepatic fibrogenesis and carcinogenesis. Experimental hepatic fibrogenesis as well as diethylnitrosamine (DEN) -induced hepatocarcinogenesis were studied in TIMP-1-deficient mice and wild type littermates. Hepatic TIMP-1 expression was upregulated following induction of liver fibrosis by bile duct ligation (BDL) or by carbon tetrachloride (CCl4). Unexpectedly, in comparison to wild type littermates, TIMP-1-deficient mice were not protected from liver fibrosis induced by BDL or CCl4. TIMP-1 expression was significantly higher in HCC nodules than in surrounding liver tissue. However, experimental hepatic carcinogenesis was similar in TIMP-1-deficient mice and wild type littermates following DEN-treatment or combined treatment with DEN and CCl4. Therefore we concluded that TIMP-1 is not essential for hepatic fibrogenesis and carcinogenesis in mice.
Project description:Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) mostly develops in patients with advanced fibrosis; however, the mechanisms of interaction between a genotoxic insult and fibrogenesis are not well understood. This study tested a hypothesis that fibrosis promotes HCC via a mechanism that involves activation of liver stem cells. First, B6C3F1 mice were administered diethylnitrosamine (DEN; single ip injection of 1mg/kg at 14 days of age). Second, carbon tetrachloride (CCl(4); 0.2ml/kg, 2/week ip starting at 8 weeks of age) was administered for 9 or 14 weeks to develop advanced liver fibrosis. In animals treated with DEN as neonates, presence of liver fibrosis led to more than doubling (to 100%) of the liver tumor incidence as early as 5 months of age. This effect was associated with activation of cells with progenitor features in noncancerous liver tissue, including markers of replicative senescence (p16), oncofetal transformation (Afp, H19, and Bex1), and increased "stemness" (Prom1 and Epcam). In contrast, the dose of DEN used did not modify the extent of liver inflammation, fibrogenesis, oxidative stress, proliferation, or apoptosis induced by subchronic CCl(4) administration. This study demonstrates the potential role of liver stem-like cells in the mechanisms of chemical-induced, fibrosis-promoted HCC. We posit that the combination of genotoxic and fibrogenic insults is a sensible approach to model liver carcinogenesis in experimental animals. These results may contribute to identification of cirrhotic patients predisposed to HCC by analyzing the expression of hepatic progenitor cell markers in the noncancerous liver tissue.
Project description:Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a prevalent human cancer with rising incidence worldwide. Human HCC is frequently associated with chronic liver inflammation and cirrhosis, pathophysiological processes that are a consequence of chronic viral infection, disturbances in metabolism, or exposure to chemical toxicants. To better characterize the pathogenesis of HCC, we used a human disease-relevant mouse model of fibrosis-associated hepatocarcinogenesis. In this model, marked liver tumor response caused by the promutagenic chemical N-nitrosodiethylamine in the presence of liver fibrosis was associated with epigenetic events indicative of genomic instability. Therefore, we hypothesized that DNA copy number alterations (CNAs), a feature of genomic instability and a common characteristic of cancer, are concordant between human HCC and mouse models of fibrosis-associated hepatocarcinogenesis. We evaluated DNA CNAs and changes in gene expression in the mouse liver (normal, tumor, and nontumor fibrotic tissues). Additionally, we compared our findings to DNA CNAs in human HCC cases (tumor and nontumor cirrhotic/fibrotic tissues) using publicly available data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). We observed that while fibrotic liver tissue is largely devoid of DNA CNAs, highly frequently occurring DNA CNAs are found in mouse tumors, which is indicative of a profound increase in chromosomal instability in HCC. The cross-species gene-level comparison of CNAs identified shared regions of CNAs between human fibrosis- and cirrhosis-associated liver tumors and mouse fibrosis-associated HCC. Our results suggest that CNAs most commonly arise in neoplastic tissue rather than in fibrotic or cirrhotic liver, and demonstrate the utility of this mouse model in replicating the molecular features of human HCC.
Project description:Autotaxin (ATX, Enpp2) is a secreted lysophospholipase D catalyzing the production of lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), a pleiotropic growth factor-like phospholipid. Upregulated ATX expression has been detected in various chronic inflammatory disorders and different types of cancer; among them increased ATX mRNA or immunohistochemical staining has been suggested in Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients. Conditional deletion of ATX/Enpp2 specifically from hepatocytes, in AlbEnpp2-/- mice, attenuated the DEN/CCl4-mediated HCC development in mice. To obtain mechanistic insights into the mode of action of the ATX/LPA axis in HCC development, we performed whole liver, genome wide expression profiling of DEN/CCl4-induced HCC upon the genetic deletion of Autotaxin (ATX) in AlbEnpp2-/- mice in comparison with DEN/CCl4-treated and untreated wt littermate mice.
Project description:BACKGROUND & AIMS:Cirrhosis and chronic inflammation precede development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in approximately 80% of cases. We investigated immune-related gene expression patterns in liver tissues surrounding early-stage HCCs and chemopreventive agents that might alter these patterns to prevent liver tumorigenesis. METHODS:We analyzed gene expression profiles of nontumor liver tissues from 392 patients with early-stage HCC (training set, N = 167 and validation set, N = 225) and liver tissue from patients with cirrhosis without HCC (N = 216, controls) to identify changes in expression of genes that regulate the immune response that could contribute to hepatocarcinogenesis. We defined 172 genes as markers for this deregulated immune response, which we called the immune-mediated cancer field (ICF). We analyzed the expression data of liver tissues from 216 patients with cirrhosis without HCC and investigated the association between this gene expression signature and development of HCC and outcomes of patients (median follow-up, 10 years). Human liver tissues were also analyzed by histology. C57BL/6J mice were given a single injection of diethylnitrosamine (DEN) followed by weekly doses of carbon tetrachloride to induce liver fibrosis and tumorigenesis. Mice were then orally given the multiple tyrosine inhibitor nintedanib or vehicle (controls); liver tissues were collected and histology, transcriptome, and protein analyses were performed. We also analyzed transcriptomes of liver tissues collected from mice on a choline-deficient high-fat diet, which developed chronic liver inflammation and tumors, orally given aspirin and clopidogrel or the anti-inflammatory agent sulindac vs mice on a chow (control) diet. RESULTS:We found the ICF gene expression pattern in 50% of liver tissues from patients with cirrhosis without HCC and in 60% of nontumor liver tissues from patients with early-stage HCC. The liver tissues with the ICF gene expression pattern had 3 different features: increased numbers of effector T cells; increased expression of genes that suppress the immune response and activation of transforming growth factor ? signaling; or expression of genes that promote inflammation and activation of interferon gamma signaling. Patients with cirrhosis and liver tissues with the immunosuppressive profile (10% of cases) had a higher risk of HCC (hazard ratio, 2.41; 95% confidence interval, 1.21-4.80). Mice with chemically induced fibrosis or diet-induced steatohepatitis given nintedanib or aspirin and clopidogrel down-regulated the ICF gene expression pattern in liver and developed fewer and smaller tumors than mice given vehicle. CONCLUSIONS:We identified an immune-related gene expression pattern in liver tissues of patients with early-stage HCC, called the ICF, that is associated with risk of HCC development in patients with cirrhosis. Administration of nintedanib or aspirin and clopidogrel to mice with chronic liver inflammation caused loss of this gene expression pattern and development of fewer and smaller liver tumors. Agents that alter immune regulatory gene expression patterns associated with carcinogenesis might be tested as chemopreventive agents in patients with cirrhosis.
Project description:Several cellular signaling pathways, including insulin/IGF signaling, are known to be activated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Here, we investigated the roles of insulin receptor substrate (Irs) 1 and Irs2, both of which are the major molecules to be responsible for transducing insulin/IGF signaling in the liver, in the development of HCC by inducing chemical carcinogenesis using diethylnitrosamine (DEN) in mice. The Irs1 mRNA and protein expressions were upregulated in the tumors, along with enhanced insulin signaling. Liver-specific Irs1-knockout (LIrs1KO) mice exhibited suppression of DEN-induced HCC development, accompanied by reduced cancer cell proliferative activity and reduced activation of Akt. Gene expression analyses revealed that the tumors in the DEN-treated LIrs1KO mice showed modest metabolic alterations during hepatocarcinogenesis as well as decreased inflammation and invasion potentials. On the other hand, liver-specific Irs2-knockout (LIrs2KO) mice showed a similar pattern of HCC development to the DEN-treated control wild-type mice. Based on the knowledge that Wnt/?-catenin signaling is activated in HCC, we focused on Wnt/?-catenin signaling and demonstrated that Irs1 expression was induced by Wnt3a stimulation in the primary hepatocytes, associated with insulin-stimulated Akt activation. These data suggest that upregulated Irs1 by Wnt/?-catenin signaling plays a crucial role in the progression of HCC.
Project description:Background: Androgen receptor (AR) has a role in regulating malignancies and gender disparities in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Recently, TLR4 activation is demonstrated to be required for HCC progression; however, whether and how TLR4 interacts with AR is largely unknown. Methods: The tumorigenesis was detected in female and male mice induced by DEN/CCL4, then TLR4 and AR signals were detected in liver tissues by qPCR and FACS. The proliferation, colony formation and migration of HCC cell treated with TLR4 agonist LPS, or/and androgen DHT were evaluated in vitro. Furthermore, the expression of TLR4 and AR was detected by IHC in tissue microarray of HCC, and correlation of AR and TLR4 was defined. Results: Male mice are more susceptible to develop HCC than female mice. Meanwhile, we found baseline TLR4 levels were higher in male mice than in female mice. AR expression in male mice was increased by treatment with DEN/CCL4. And, AR was constitutively expressed in human HCC cell lines. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) stimulated TLR4 expression in both HepG2 and HepG2 2.15 cells, which could be blocked by silencing AR. On the other hand, treatment with LPS stimulated AR expression, but it was blocked by treatment with TLR4 antagonist and in cells deficient for TLR4. DHT treatment exacerbated TLR4-induced cellular proliferation, colony formation, migration, and invasion of HepG2 cells. The positive relationship between AR and TLR4 was confirmed in human HCC samples. Conclusions: DHT-AR-TLR4 signaling enhances the development of HCC cells and facilitates their migration and invasion, demonstrating a mechanism underlying gender disparity in HCC.
Project description:Alcohol-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) develops with advanced alcoholic liver disease and liver fibrosis. Using adult mice, we evaluate the effect of alcoholic steatohepatitis on early hepatobiliary carcinoma after initiation by diethyl-nitrosamine (DEN). Here we show that alcohol-fed DEN-injected mice have higher ALT and liver-to-body weight ratio compared to pair-fed DEN-injected mice. Alcohol feeding results in steatohepatitis indicated by increased pro-inflammatory cytokines and fibrotic genes. MRI and liver histology of alcohol+DEN mice shows hepatobiliary cysts, early hepatic neoplasia and increase in serum alpha-fetoprotein. Proliferation makers (BrdU, cyclin D1, p53) and cancer stem cell markers (CD133 and nanog) are significantly up-regulated in livers of alcohol-fed DEN-injected mice compared to controls. In livers with tumors, loss of miR-122 expression with a significant up-regulation of miR-122 target HIF-1? is seen. We conclude that alcoholic steatohepatitis accelerates hepatobiliary tumors with characteristic molecular features of HCC by up-regulating inflammation, cell proliferation, stemness, and miR-122 loss.