Sustained blockade of ascorbic acid transport associated with marked SVCT1 loss in rat hepatocytes containing increased ascorbic acid levels after partial hepatectomy

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The liver has an extraordinary regenerative capacity in response to partial hepatectomy (PHx), which develops with neither tissue inflammation response nor alterations in the whole organism. This process is highly coordinated and it has been associated with changes in glutathione (GSH) metabolism. However, there are no reports indicating ascorbic acid (AA) levels after partial hepatectomy. AA and GSH act integrally as an antioxidant system that protects cells and tissues from oxidative damage and imbalance observed in a variety of diseases that affect the liver. Although rat hepatocytes are able to synthesize AA and GSH, which are the providers of AA for the whole organism, they also acquire AA from extracellular sources through the sodium-coupled ascorbic acid transporter-1 (SVCT1). Here, we show that hepatocytes from rat livers subjected to PHx increase their GSH and AA levels from 1 to 7 days post hepatectomy, whose peaks precede the peak in cell proliferation observed at 3 days post-hepatectomy. The increase in both antioxidants was associated with higher expression of the enzymes involved in their synthesis, such as the modifier subunit of enzyme glutamine cysteine ligase (GCLM), glutathione synthetase (GS), gulonolactonase (GLN) and gulonolactone oxidase (GULO). Importantly, rat hepatocytes, that normally exhibit kinetic evidence indicating only SVCT1-mediated transport of AA, lost more than 90% of their capacity to transport it at day 1 after PHx without evidence of recovery at day 7. This observation was in agreement with loss of SVCT1 protein expression, which was undetectable in hepatocytes as early as 2 h after PHx, with partial recovery at day 7, when the regenerated liver weight returns to normal.

We conclude that after PHx, rat hepatocytes enhance their antioxidant capacity by increasing GSH and AA levels prior to the proliferative peak. GSH and AA are increased by de novo synthesis, however paradoxically hepatocytes from rat subjected to PHx also suppress their capacity to acquire AA from extracellular sources through SVCT1.

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