Overexpression of Heparin-Binding Epidermal Growth Factor-Like Growth Factor Mediates Liver Fibrosis in Transgenic Mice☆,☆☆

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Abstract

Background

The role of heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor (HB-EGF) in liver fibrosis is not clear and is sometimes even contradictory. To clarify this role, a HB-EGF transgenic (Tg) mouse model was, for the first time, used to evaluate the functions of HB-EGF in liver fibrosis.

Materials and Methods

For the in vivo study, carbon tetrachloride injection and bile duct ligation treatment were used to induce liver fibrosis in HB-EGF Tg mice and wild-type (WT) mice, respectively. Primary hepatic satellite cells (HSCs) were isolated from HB-EGF Tg and WT mice for the in vitro study.

Results

Compared with the WT mice, HB-EGF Tg mice were shown to develop more severe liver fibrosis when treated with carbon tetrachloride or bile duct ligation, with increased matrix metalloproteinases 13 activity and enhanced expression of fibrogenic genes including α-smooth muscle actin and collagen I. HB-EGF gene transfer led to an increase in proliferation and a decrease in apoptosis in primary HSCs. The ERK signaling pathway was more highly activated in primary HSCs from HB-EGF Tg mice than in those from WT mice.

Conclusions

Our investigation confirmed the profibrotic effect of HB-EGF on the liver using a Tg mouse model. This result may contribute to the elucidation of HB-EGF as a therapeutic target in liver fibrosis.

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