B lymphocytes repress hepatic tumorigenesis but not development in Hras12V transgenic mice

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Increasing reports show noninflammation underlying HCC, challenging our understanding of the roles of the immune system in hepatocarcinogenesis. By exploring a mouse model of hepatic tumor induced by hepatocyte-specific expression of theHras12Voncogene without obvious inflammation, we found that the proportion of B cells, but not T cells, progressively and significantly decreased in 3, 5-month-old transgenic mice (Tg) compared with non-transgenic mice. Notably, the proportions of total and activated B and T cells all significantly decreased in 9-month-old Tg with multiple massive hepatic tumors. Together with the decreased B cell proportion, serum IgG1/2 also significantly decreased in 5, 9-month-old Tg. Interestingly, homozygous Tg showed significantly higher B cell proportion and IgG2 levels, accompanied by significantly lower incidences of liver nodules but not adenomas and carcinomas compared with heterozygous Tg. Treatment of Tg with PCI-32765, a potent Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor for suppressing B cell proliferation and activation, significantly decreased the B cell proportion and IgG2 levels, accompanied by a significantly higher incidence of liver nodules, but had no effects on adenoma and carcinoma. Treatment of Tg with insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) significantly increased the B cell proportion and IgG2 levels, accompanied by a significantly lower incidence of liver nodules and carcinoma, but had no effects on adenoma. Conclusively, B cells and IgG2 may play important roles in suppressing hepatic tumorigenesis, but not development. In addition, hepatocyte-specific expression of therasoncogene may play roles in suppressing B cells, while developed hepatic tumors suppress both B and T cells.

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