CCL2-dependent infiltrating macrophages promote angiogenesis in progressive liver fibrosis.
ABSTRACT: In chronic liver injury, angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, may contribute to progressive hepatic fibrosis and to development of hepatocellular carcinoma. Although hypoxia-induced expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) occurs in advanced fibrosis, we hypothesised that inflammation may endorse hepatic angiogenesis already at early stages of fibrosis.Angiogenesis in livers of c57BL/6 mice upon carbon tetrachloride- or bile duct ligation-induced chronic hepatic injury was non-invasively monitored using in vivo contrast-enhanced micro computed tomography (µCT) and ex vivo anatomical µCT after hepatic Microfil perfusion. Functional contributions of monocyte-derived macrophage subsets for angiogenesis were explored by pharmacological inhibition of CCL2 using the Spiegelmer mNOX-E36.Contrast-enhanced in vivo µCT imaging allowed non-invasive monitoring of the close correlation of angiogenesis, reflected by functional hepatic blood vessel expansion, with experimental fibrosis progression. On a cellular level, inflammatory monocyte-derived macrophages massively accumulated in injured livers, colocalised with newly formed vessels in portal tracts and exhibited pro-angiogenic gene profiles including upregulated VEGF and MMP9. Functional in vivo and anatomical ex vivo µCT analyses demonstrated that inhibition of monocyte infiltration by targeting the chemokine CCL2 prevented fibrosis-associated angiogenesis, but not fibrosis progression. Monocyte-derived macrophages primarily fostered sprouting angiogenesis within the portal vein tract. Portal vein diameter as a measure of portal hypertension depended on fibrosis, but not on angiogenesis.Inflammation-associated angiogenesis is promoted by CCL2-dependent monocytes during fibrosis progression. Innovative in vivo µCT methodology can accurately monitor angiogenesis and antiangiogenic therapy effects in experimental liver fibrosis.
Project description:Background and Aims: Monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) is a potent chemoattractant for monocytes. It is involved in pathogenesis of several inflammatory diseases. Hepatic MCP-1 is a readout of macrophage activation. While inflammation is a major driver of liver disease progression, the origin and role of circulating MCP-1 as a biomarker remains unclear. Methods: Hepatic CC-chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2) expression and F4/80 staining for Kupffer cells were measured and correlated in a mouse model of chronic liver disease (inhalative CCl4 for 7 weeks). Next, hepatic RNA levels of CCL2 were measured in explanted livers of 39 patients after transplantation and correlated with severity of disease. Changes in MCP-1 were further evaluated in a rat model of experimental cirrhosis and acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF). Finally, we analyzed portal and hepatic vein levels of MCP-1 in patients receiving transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt insertion for complications of portal hypertension. Results: In this mouse model of fibrotic hepatitis, hepatic expression of CCL2 (P = 0.009) and the amount of F4/80 positive cells in the liver (P < 0.001) significantly increased after induction of hepatitis by CCl4 compared to control animals. Moreover, strong correlation of hepatic CCL2 expression and F4/80 positive cells were seen (P = 0.023). Furthermore, in human liver explants, hepatic transcription levels of CCL2 correlated with the MELD score of the patients, and thus disease severity (P = 0.007). The experimental model of ACLF in rats revealed significantly higher levels of MCP-1 plasma (P = 0.028) and correlation of hepatic CCL2 expression (R = 0.69, P = 0.003). Particularly, plasma MCP-1 levels did not correlate with peripheral blood monocyte CCL2 expression. Finally, higher levels of MCP-1 were observed in the hepatic compared to the portal vein (P = 0.01) in patients receiving TIPS. Similarly, a positive correlation of MCP-1 with Child-Pugh score was observed (P = 0.018). Further, in the presence of ACLF, portal and hepatic vein levels of MCP-1 were significantly higher compared to patients without ACLF (both P = 0.039). Conclusion: Circulating levels of MCP-1 mainly derive from the injured liver and are associated with severity of liver disease. Therefore, liver macrophages contribute significantly to disease progression. Circulating MCP-1 may reflect the extent of hepatic macrophage activation.
Project description:Hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) play pivotal roles in hepatic fibrosis as they synthesize glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), which is increased in activated HSCs. GFAP-expressing HSCs and myofibroblasts accumulate in and around hepatic fibrosis lesions. Peptidylarginine deiminase 2 (PAD2) is responsible for the citrullination of GFAP (cit-GFAP). However, the involvement of PAD2 and cit-GFAP in hepatic fibrosis remains unclear. To determine the expression of PAD2 and cit-GFAP in hepatic fibrosis, C57BL/6 mice underwent bile duct ligation (BDL) or a sham operation. In BDL livers, the expression of PAD2 and its enzyme activity were significantly increased compared with controls. In addition, PAD2-postitive cells were rarely observed in only the portal vein and the small bile duct in sham-operated livers, whereas an increased number of PAD2-positive cells were detected in the bile duct and Glisson's sheath in BDL livers. Interestingly, PAD2 was colocalized with ?-SMA-positive cells and CK19-positive cells in BDL livers, indicating upregulated PAD2 in activated HSCs and portal fibroblasts of the livers of BDL mice. We also found that citrullinated proteins were highly accumulated in the livers of BDL mice compared with controls. Moreover, the expression level of GFAP and the amount of cit-GFAP were higher in BDL livers than in control livers. In correlation with PAD2 localization, cit-GFAP was observed in ?-SMA-positive and CK19-positive cells in the livers of BDL mice. These results suggest that the increased expression and activation of PAD2 along with increased citrullinated proteins, specifically cit-GFAP, may play important roles in the pathogenesis of hepatic fibrosis.
Project description:Background and Aims:Angiogenesis is critically involved in the development of liver fibrosis, portal hypertension (PHT) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Regorafenib is a novel second-line therapy for HCC, but might also be beneficial in fibrosis and PHT even in absence of HCC. This study investigated the effects of regorafenib in experimental models without HCC. Methods:Fibrosis (in vivo and in vitro), inflammation, liver damage (aminotransferases), angiogenesis (matrigel implantation) and in vivo systemic and portal hemodynamics were assessed in different mouse and rat models (bile duct ligation, CCl4, partial portal vein ligation) after acute and chronic treatment with regorafenib. Results:Long-term treatment with regorafenib improved portal hypertension most likely due to blunted angiogenesis, without affecting fibrosis progression or regression. Interestingly, acute administration of regorafenib also ameliorated portal hemodynamics. Although regorafenib treatment led to hepatotoxic side effects in long-term treated fibrotic animals, in partial portal vein ligated rats, no liver toxicity due to regorafenib was observed. Discussion:Regorafenib might be especially suitable as therapy in patients with PHT and preserved liver function.
Project description:Background and aims: There are considerable evidences demonstrating that angiogenesis and chronic inflammation are mutually dependent. However, although cirrhosis progression is characterized with a chronic hepatic inflammatory process, this connection is not sufficiently explored as a therapeutic strategy. Therefore, this study was aimed to assess the potential benefits of targeting angiogenesis in cirrhotic livers to modulate inflammation and fibrosis. For this purpose, we evaluate the therapeutic utility of angiogenesis inhibitors. Methods: The in vivo effects of angiogenesis inhibitors were monitored in liver of cirrhotic rats by measuring angiogenesis, inflammatory infiltrate, fibrosis, a-smooth muscle actin (a-SMA) accumulation, differential gene expression (by microarrays), and portal pressure. Results: Cirrhosis progression was associated with a significant enhancement of vascular density and expression of vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A), angiopoietin-1, angiopoietin-2 and placental growth factor (PlGF) in cirrhotic livers. The newly formed hepatic vasculature expressed vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1). Interestingly, the expression of these adhesion molecules correlated well with local inflammatory infiltrate. Livers of cirrhotic rats treated with angiogenesis inhibitors presented a significant decrease in hepatic vascular density, inflammatory infiltrate, a-SMA abundance, collagen expression and portal pressure. Conclusion: Angiogenesis inhibitors may offer a potential novel therapy for cirrhosis due to its multiple mechanisms of action against angiogenesis, inflammation and fibrosis in cirrhotic livers. Experiment Overall Design: RNA from liver of 4 non-treated cirrhotic rats or 4 rats treated with angiogenesis inhibitors was hybridized to 8 high-density oligonucleotide microarray (Rat2302, Affymetrix, Santa Clara, CA)
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Circulating cirrhotic endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) interact with both liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC) and hepatic stellate cells (HSC) and promote angiogenesis <i>in vitro</i>. This study evaluated the effect of cirrhotic and control EPCs on hepatic angiogenesis, microcirculation, and fibrosis <i>in vivo</i> in rat models of cirrhosis.<h4>Methodology</h4>Animal models of cirrhosis were prepared by bile duct ligation (BDL). Circulating EPCs isolated from healthy human and cirrhotic blood were characterized by flow cytometry, cultured and administered through the tail vein in BDL rats after 2 weeks of ligation. The cells were given thrice a week for 2 weeks. The untreated group of BDL rats received only saline. Fibrosis was evaluated by Masson's trichrome staining. Dedifferentiated LSECs were identified by the expression of CD31, and activated HSCs were marked as alpha-SMA-positive cells and were studied by immunohistochemistry and western blotting in saline-, healthy EPC-, and cirrhotic EPC-treated rats. <i>In vivo</i>, hepatic and systemic hemodynamic parameters were evaluated. Liver functions were evaluated.<h4>Results</h4>In comparison to controls, BDL rats revealed an increase of fibrosis and angiogenesis. Among the treated rats, cirrhotic EPC-treated rats had increased fibrosis grade as compared to healthy EPC-treated and saline-treated rats. There was an increase of both fibrosis and angiogenesis markers, alpha-SMA and CD31 in cirrhotic EPC-treated rats as compared to healthy EPC-treated and saline-treated rats in immunohistochemistry and western blot studies. Cirrhotic EPC-treated BDL rats had high portal pressure and portal blood flow with significantly elevated hepatic vascular resistance in comparison with healthy EPC- and saline-treated BDL animals, without significant differences in mean arterial pressure. Cirrhotic EPC-treated BDL rats also showed a substantial increase in the hepatic expression of angiogenic receptors, VEGFR2 and CXCR4 in comparison with saline-treated rats.<h4>Conclusion</h4>The study suggests that transplantation of cirrhotic EPCs enhances LSEC differentiation and angiogenesis, activates HSCs and worsens fibrosis, thus resulting in hepatic hemodynamic derangements in BDL-induced cirrhosis.
Project description:Liver cirrhosis but also portal vein obstruction cause portal hypertension (PHT) and angiogenesis. This study investigated the differences of angiogenesis in cirrhotic and non-cirrhotic PHT with special emphasis on the canonical (Shh/Gli) and non-canonical (Shh/RhoA) hedgehog pathway. Cirrhotic (bile duct ligation/BDL; CCl4 intoxication) and non-cirrhotic (partial portal vein ligation/PPVL) rats received either atorvastatin (15 mg/kg; 7d) or control chow before sacrifice. Invasive hemodynamic measurement and Matrigel implantation assessed angiogenesis in vivo. Angiogenesis in vitro was analysed using migration and tube formation assay. In liver and vessel samples from animals and humans, transcript expression was analyzed using RT-PCR and protein expression using Western blot. Atorvastatin decreased portal pressure, shunt flow and angiogenesis in cirrhosis, whereas atorvastatin increased these parameters in PPVL rats. Non-canonical Hh was upregulated in experimental and human liver cirrhosis and was blunted by atorvastatin. Moreover, atorvastatin blocked the non-canonical Hh-pathway RhoA dependently in activated hepatic steallate cells (HSCs). Interestingly, hepatic and extrahepatic Hh-pathway was enhanced in PPVL rats, which resulted in increased angiogenesis. In summary, statins caused contrary effects in cirrhotic and non-cirrhotic portal hypertension. Atorvastatin inhibited the non-canonical Hh-pathway and angiogenesis in cirrhosis. In portal vein obstruction, statins enhanced the canonical Hh-pathway and aggravated PHT and angiogenesis.
Project description:Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is gaining in importance and is linked to obesity. Especially, the development of fibrosis and portal hypertension in NAFLD patients requires treatment. Transgenic TGR(mREN2)27 rats overexpressing mouse renin spontaneously develop NAFLD with portal hypertension but without obesity. This study investigated the additional role of obesity in this model on the development of portal hypertension and fibrosis. Obesity was induced in twelve-week old TGR(mREN2)27 rats after receiving Western diet (WD) for two or four weeks. Liver fibrosis was assessed using standard techniques. Hepatic expression of transforming growth factor-?1 (TGF-?1), collagen type I?1, ?-smooth muscle actin, and the macrophage markers Emr1, as well as the chemoattractant Ccl2, interleukin-1? (IL1?) and tumor necrosis factor-? (TNF?) were analyzed. Assessment of portal and systemic hemodynamics was performed using the colored microsphere technique. As expected, WD induced obesity and liver fibrosis as confirmed by Sirius Red and Oil Red O staining. The expression of the monocyte-macrophage markers, Emr1, Ccl2, IL1? and TNF? were increased during feeding of WD, indicating infiltration of macrophages into the liver, even though this increase was statistically not significant for the EGF module-containing mucin-like receptor (Emr1) mRNA expression levels. Of note, portal pressure increased with the duration of WD compared to animals that received a normal chow. Besides obesity, WD feeding increased systemic vascular resistance reflecting systemic endothelial and splanchnic vascular dysfunction. We conclude that transgenic TGR(mREN2)27 rats are a suitable model to investigate NAFLD development with liver fibrosis and portal hypertension. Tendency towards elevated expression of Emr1 is associated with macrophage activity point to a significant role of macrophages in NAFLD pathogenesis, probably due to a shift of the renin-angiotensin system towards a higher activation of the classical pathway. The hepatic injury induced by WD in TGR(mREN2)27 rats is suitable to evaluate different stages of fibrosis and portal hypertension in NAFLD with obesity.
Project description:Schistosomiasis is a major cause of portal hypertension worldwide. It associates with portal fibrosis that develops during chronic infection. The mechanisms by which the pathogen evokes these host responses remain unclear. We evaluated the hypothesis that schistosome eggs release factors that directly stimulate liver cells to produce osteopontin (OPN), a pro-fibrogenic protein that stimulates hepatic stellate cells to become myofibroblasts. We also investigated the utility of OPN as a biomarker of fibrosis and/or severity of portal hypertension. Cultured cholangiocytes, Kupffer cells and hepatic stellate cells were treated with soluble egg antigen (SEA); OPN production was quantified by quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (qRTPCR) and ELISA; cell proliferation was assessed by BrdU (5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine). Mice were infected with Schistosoma mansoni for 6 or 16 weeks to cause early or advanced fibrosis. Liver OPN was evaluated by qRTPCR and immunohistochemistry (IHC) and correlated with liver fibrosis and serum OPN. Livers from patients with schistosomiasis mansoni (early fibrosis n=15; advanced fibrosis n=72) or healthy adults (n=22) were immunostained for OPN and fibrosis markers. Results were correlated with plasma OPN levels and splenic vein pressures. SEA-induced cholangiocyte proliferation and OPN secretion (P<0.001 compared with controls). Cholangiocytes were OPN (+) in Schistosoma-infected mice and humans. Liver and serum OPN levels correlated with fibrosis stage (mice: r=0.861; human r=0.672, P=0.0001) and myofibroblast accumulation (mice: r=0.800; human: r=0.761, P=0.0001). Numbers of OPN (+) bile ductules strongly correlated with splenic vein pressure (r=0.778; P=0.001). S. mansoni egg antigens stimulate cholangiocyte proliferation and OPN secretion. OPN levels in liver and blood correlate with fibrosis stage and portal hypertension severity.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Schistosomiasis (or bilharzia), a major parasitic disease, affects more than 260 million people worldwide. In chronic cases of intestinal schistosomiasis caused by trematodes of the Schistosoma genus, hepatic fibrosis develops as a host immune response to the helminth eggs, followed by potentially lethal portal hypertension. In this study, we characterized hepatic and splenic features of a murine model of intestinal schistosomiasis using in vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and evaluated the transverse relaxation time T2 as a non-invasive imaging biomarker for monitoring hepatic fibrogenesis. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:CBA/J mice were imaged at 11.75 T two, six and ten weeks after percutaneous infection with Schistosoma mansoni. In vivo imaging studies were completed with histology at the last two time points. Anatomical MRI allowed detection of typical manifestations of the intestinal disease such as significant hepato- and splenomegaly, and dilation of the portal vein as early as six weeks, with further aggravation at 10 weeks after infection. Liver multifocal lesions observed by MRI in infected animals at 10 weeks post infection corresponded to granulomatous inflammation and intergranulomatous fibrosis with METAVIR scores up to A2F2. While most healthy hepatic tissue showed T2 values below 14 ms, these lesions were characterized by a T2 greater than 16 ms. The area fraction of increased T2 correlated (rS = 0.83) with the area fraction of Sirius Red stained collagen in histological sections. A continuous liver T2* decrease was also measured while brown pigments in macrophages were detected at histology. These findings suggest accumulation of hematin in infected livers. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:Our multiparametric MRI approach confirms that this murine model replicates hepatic and splenic manifestations of human intestinal schistosomiasis. Quantitative T2 mapping proved sensitive to assess liver fibrogenesis non-invasively and may therefore constitute an objective imaging biomarker for treatment monitoring in diseases involving hepatic fibrosis.
Project description:Couinaud based his well-known subdivision of the liver into (surgical) segments on the branching order of portal veins and the location of hepatic veins. However, both segment boundaries and number remain controversial due to an incomplete understanding of the role of liver lobes and vascular physiology on hepatic venous development. Human embryonic livers (5-10 weeks of development) were visualized with Amira 3D-reconstruction and Cinema 4D-remodeling software. Starting at 5 weeks, the portal and umbilical veins sprouted portal-vein branches that, at 6.5 weeks, had been pruned to 3 main branches in the right hemi-liver, whereas all (>10) persisted in the left hemi-liver. The asymmetric branching pattern of the umbilical vein resembled that of a "distributing" vessel, whereas the more symmetric branching of the portal trunk resembled a "delivering" vessel. At 6 weeks, 3-4 main hepatic-vein outlets drained into the inferior caval vein, of which that draining the caudate lobe formed the intrahepatic portion of the caval vein. More peripherally, 5-6 major tributaries drained both dorsolateral regions and the left and right ventromedial regions, implying a "crypto-lobar" distribution. Lobar boundaries, even in non-lobated human livers, and functional vascular requirements account for the predictable topography and branching pattern of the liver veins, respectively.