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Involvement of SDF-1 in Stem-Cell-Aided Liver Regeneration

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PAGE 1

INVOLVEMENT OF SDF-1 IN STEM CELL-AIDED LIVER REGENERATION By DONGHANG ZHENG A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2006

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Copyright 2006 by Donghang Zheng

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iii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank Dr. Bryon Petersen for his guidance and support throughout my training. I thank my supervisory comm ittee (Dr. Chen Liu, Dr. Maria Grant, Dr. Laurence Morel, Dr. Edward Scott and Dr. Naohiro Terada) for their invaluable guidance. I thank Marda Jorgensen for sharing with me her extraordinary experience on immunohistochemistry. I also th ank my friends and colleagues in the Petersen laboratory, Seh-hoon Oh, Thomas Shupe, Liya Pi, Jie Deng, Rafel Witek, Alicia Brown, Heather Hatch, Anna Piscaglia, Youngmi Jung, Je nnifer LaPlante, Susan Ellor and Houda Darwiche, for their he lp and tolerance.

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iv TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iii LIST OF TABLES.............................................................................................................vi LIST OF FIGURES..........................................................................................................vii ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ix CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 Summary of Liver Biology...........................................................................................2 Liver Regeneration.......................................................................................................6 Basic Characteristics of Liver Regeneration.........................................................6 Hepatocyte-Dependent Liver Re generation: PHx as a Sample.............................9 Stem Cell-aided Liver Regeneration...................................................................21 Stromal Cell-Derived Factor 1....................................................................................30 2 EXPRESSION OF SDF-1 DURING OVAL CELL ACTIVATION.........................38 Introduction.................................................................................................................38 Materials and Methods...............................................................................................40 Materials and Subjects.........................................................................................40 Liver Regeneration Models.................................................................................41 Protein Preparation and Western Blot Analysis..................................................41 Immunohistochemistry........................................................................................43 Migration Studies................................................................................................43 Results........................................................................................................................ .44 SDF-1 Protein Expression in Va rious Liver Regeneration Models....................44 Immunohistochemistry for SDF-1 and CXCR4..............................................46 3 KNOCKDOWN OF SDF1 COMPROMISES OVAL CELL ACTIVATION.........59 Introduction.................................................................................................................59 Materials and Methods...............................................................................................61 Animal Experiments............................................................................................61 Recombinant Adenovirus....................................................................................61

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v SiRNA Expression Cassette.........................................................................61 Generation of Recombinant Adenovirus......................................................62 Immunohistology.................................................................................................63 Immunofluorescent Staining for SDF-1.......................................................63 Immunostaining for OV6.............................................................................63 Immunostaining for Ki67.............................................................................63 Northern Blotting.................................................................................................64 Western Blotting..................................................................................................64 TUNEL Analysis.................................................................................................65 Results........................................................................................................................ .65 SDF-1 Expression in Rat Liver after 2AAF/PHx................................................65 Suppression of SDF-1 Expression by SiSD F in the Livers of 2AAF/PHx Rats.65 Inhibition of Oval Cell Response by Knocking Down SDF-1............................66 Decrease of Oval Cell Number Was No t Related to Oval Cell Apoptosis.........66 Discussion...................................................................................................................67 4 EFFECTS OF SDF-1 OVEREXPRE SSION DURING OVAL CELL-AIDED LIVER REGENERATION.........................................................................................77 Introduction.................................................................................................................77 Materials and Methods...............................................................................................78 Recombinant Adenovirus....................................................................................78 SDF-1 Overexpression Cassette...................................................................78 Generation of Adenovirus............................................................................78 Bone Marrow Transplantation.............................................................................79 DPPIV Staining...................................................................................................79 Laminin Staining.................................................................................................80 Immunofluorescence of Desmin/Laminin...........................................................80 Immunofluorescence of OV6/Laminin................................................................81 Immunofluorescence of OV6/Desmin.................................................................81 ELISA for SDF-1................................................................................................81 Results........................................................................................................................ .82 Overexpression of SDF in the Liver Do es Not Enhance Oval Cell Activation at Day 9............................................................................................................82 Overexpression of SDF in the Liver Promote ECM Deposition in the Liver at Day 28 after 2AAF/PHx..................................................................................82 Discussions.................................................................................................................83 5 GENERAL CONCLUSIONS.....................................................................................94 LIST OF REFERENCES...................................................................................................96 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH...........................................................................................115

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vi LIST OF TABLES Table page 1-1 Rodent models of oval cell induction.......................................................................37 1-2 Liver cell lineage markers........................................................................................37

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vii LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2-1 Western blot analysis on whole cell ly sate obtained from rats treated with CCl4...53 2-2 Western blot analysis for SDF-1a on crude insoluble extracts from both CCl4 and oval cell-aided model........................................................................................53 2-3 Western blot analysis for SDF-1 in th e crude insoluble extracts from acute AA, 2-AAF/AA, and 2AAF/PHx treated rats..................................................................54 2-4 Immunohistochemistry for SDF1 on frozen rat liver sections................................55 2-5 Immunohistochemistry for CXCR4 on frozen rat liver sections..............................56 2-6 Immunohistochemistry for SDF-1 and CX CR4 on liver sections obtained from rats exposed to 2AAF/AA day 9 post-injury............................................................57 3-1 Immunofluorescent staining of SDF-1 in normal rat liver and 2AAF/PHx rat liver.......................................................................................................................... .71 3-2 Ad-siSDF knocks down SDF-1 expression in 2AAF/PHx rat livers and inhibits the oval cell reaction in these animals......................................................................72 3-3 OV6 immunostaining of rat liver sections...............................................................73 3-4 Knockdown of SDF-1 and the expression of AFP...................................................74 3-5 No significant apoptosis detected by TUNEL staining in 2AAF/PHx rat livers......75 3-6 Knockdown of SDF-1 hindered hepatic cell proliferation.......................................76 4-1 Overexpression of SDF-1.........................................................................................88 4-2 Oval cell activation at day 9 afte r 2AAF/PHx with or without SDF-1 overexpression..........................................................................................................89 4-3 H&E staining of the liver of 2AAF/P Hx treated rat with or without SDF-1 overexpression (day 28)...........................................................................................90

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viii 4-4 DPPIV staining of the livers of 2AAF /PHx treated rat with or without SDF-1 overexpression (day 28)...........................................................................................91 4-5 Extracellular matrix deposition with the liver of 2AAF/PHx treated rat with or without SDF-1 overexpression (day 28)..................................................................92

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ix Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy INVOLVEMENT OF SDF-1 IN STEM CELL-AIDED LIVER REGENERATION By Donghang Zheng May 2006 Chair: Bryon E. Petersen Major Department: Medical Sciences--Molecular Cell Biology Stromal derived factor-1 (SDF-1) and its receptor CXCR4 have been shown to play a critical role in regulation of stem/progenitor cell activi ties, such as migration and proliferation. In this study, the role of SDF-1 and its receptor CXCR4 was investigated as a possible mechanism for oval ce ll activation in oval cell aided liver regeneration. In liver injury models where oval cell activation is involved, hepatocytes increase the expression of SDF-1. While in hepatocyte-driven liv er regeneration model, SDF-1 is not upregulated. In addition, CXCR4 is expressed by oval cells. Lastly, in vitro chemotaxis assays demonstrated that ova l cells migrate along a SDF-1 gradient, suggesting that the SDF-1/CXCR4 interaction is a mechanism by which the oval cell compartment could be activated and possibly recruit a second wave of bone marrow stem cells to the injured liver. To further assess the role of SDF-1 in stem cell-aided liver regeneration, SDF-1 expression was knocked down in the liver of 2AAF/PHx treated rats using siRNA delivered by recombinant adenovirus, and oval cell activation in these animals was

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x examined. Results showed that the oval cell response was compromised in these animals, as evidenced by a decreased number of OV6 positive oval cells. In addition, knockdown of SDF-1 expression caused a dramatic decrease in AFP expression, implying impaired oval cell activation in these animals. These re sults indicate that SDF-1 is an essential molecule needed in oval cell activation. Overexpression of SDF-1 in the liver of 2A AF/PHx treated rats fails to enhance the stem cell response to the in jury. But in the long term, overexpression of SDF-1 during oval cell activation causes increased ECM de position in the liver, which is similar to portal-portal liver fibrosis. The significance of SDF-1 in liver fibrogenesis is yet to be investigated. In conclusion, these studies begin to shed light on some facets of the mechanisms of oval cell-aided liver regeneration and liv er fibrosis, which may someday lead to development of novel strategies to enhance stem cell-aided liver regeneration or to resolve liver fibrosis.

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1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The liver plays a critical role in main taining metabolic homeostasis of the body. This includes the processing of dietary nutrien ts, and the synthesis of a large spectrum of serum proteins, enzymes and cofactors. The li ver is the main detoxifying organ removing wastes and xenobiotics by metabolic convers ion and biliary excretion. Functioning as a way station between splanchnic a nd systemic circulation, the liver is vulnerable to a wide variety of metabolic, toxic, microbial and ci rculatory insults. Thanks to evolutionary adaptation, the liver features an unusual rege nerative capability and enormous functional reserve. Therefore, mild liver damage usua lly does not cause no ticeable symptoms. But when progression of liver disease finally abla tes a considerable porti on of functional liver parenchymal cells, the conse quence of hepatic failure could be life threatening. For patients with terminal liver disease, a successful liver transplantation is their last resort nowadays. Besides the potentia l complications inherent to long-term immunosuppresion, liver transplantation faces another major hurdle, scarcity of donor organs. As in other fields of solid organ transplantation, the gap between the number of patients listed as candidates for liver tran splantation and the number of transplants performed has grown over the last 10 years (through 2001). According to the report of United Network for Organ Sharing (www.unos.o rg/data), the waiting list increased more than 6-folds from 1993 to 2000 (from 2,902 pati ents to 18,047 patients). But the number of donor organs recovered only increased from 3800 to 5382. The prospect of hepatocyte transplantation also suffers from a shortage of cell sources.

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2 Because of the vast need for liver transp lants, many researchers sought alternative option(s). One option would be to exploit the po tentiality of adult stem cells to repair damaged liver. Adult tissue stem cells are known to present in a large variety of tissues such as skin, intestine, bone marrow et al and represent a potential source of cells needed for normal tissue turnover and damage repairing. In the adult liver, a group of cells called oval cells have been shown to be able to diffe rentiate to mature hepatocytes and bile duct cells after toxic injury or massive necrosis. These cells are facultative liver stem (progenitor) cells keeping a re servoir for liver regeneration.1 A body of recent publications show that bone marrow stem cells also provide a reservoir for hepatocytes and oval cells.2-4 It is of great interest that in adul t animal a number of cell types, both hepatic and non-hepatic, retain the ability to differentiat e into hepatocytes. Further understanding of these mechanisms govern ing this phenomenon could enhance the development of novel therapies for tissue rege neration, and not solely for hepatocytes. This study aims to investigate the signal(s ) that may control stem cell migration and activation during liver regeneration, and se ts to exploit possible way to enhance recruitment of stem cells in the regenerative process. Summary of Liver Biology The liver is a large parenchymal organ c onsisting of complex array of cells and vasculature. It represents about 2% of the body weight in humans and 5% in the mice. The liver has two separate sources of affere nt blood supply---the he patic artery and the portal vein. The hepatic artery provides liver with oxygenated blood, and the portal vein brings in venous blood rich in nutrients (and digested toxins too) from the splanchic vascular bed. The efferent blood drains to th e hepatic vein and further to the vena cava.

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3 The bulk of the liver is primarily composed of the hepatocytes, stellate cells (Ito cells), Kupffer cells, sinusoidal epithelial cells, and biliary epithelial cells. The major organismal liver functions are carried out by hepatocytes, which represent about 90% of total liver weight and about 60% of the total cell number. Hepa tocytes are large, cuboidal epithelial cells with a basal surface facing the sinusoids; and an apical surface (also called the canalicular surface) facing the bile canaliculi. Hepatocy tes exchange metabolites with the blood on the basal surface and secrete bi le at the canalicular surface. Although somewhat variable among species, a larg e proportion of adul t hepatocytes are binucleated, with some nuclei being tetrap loid. Thus, hepatocytes can have 2n, 4n, or 8n total DNA content. In a microscopic view, he patocytes are arranged in a single-layer cell plate called the hepatic plate, which bifurcat es and merges freely while extending from portal space to the central venule. The limiting plate is the first row of hepatocytes that separates liver parenchyma from the portal space. The c ontinuous mass of hepatocytic plates is interpenetrated by hepatic sinusoids a liver counterpart of capillary. Blood from the hepatic artery branch and portal vein bran ch enters the sinusoids, delivers oxygen and nutrients to the liver cells, picks up carbon di oxide and metabolic products from the liver cells, and drains into the central vein branc h. Fenestrated endothelial cells form the wall between the sinusoids and hepa tocytes, facilitating the exchange of materials between hepatocytes and blood. Bile canaliculi are lined by two adjacent plates of hepatocytes and drain bile into bile ductules, which are lined by biliary epithelial cells. The canaliculoductular junction connects the b ile canaliculi and b ile ductule, and is also known as canal of Hering. The portal triad harbor s the branches of the hepatic artery, portal vein and bile duct. Hepatocytes vary in biochemical pr operties and pattern of gene expression

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4 according to their proximodistal orientation to the portal triad. The term metabolic zonation has been coined to indicate the diffe rent properties of zone -1, zone-2, and zone3 hepatocytes. Zone-1 hepatocy tes are close to the portal tria d, zone-2 cells are in the middle, and zone-3 consists of cells di rectly adjacent to the central vein. Kupffer cells represent about 5% of liver cells and reside in the sinusoids. These cells are macrophages of hematopoietic origin capable of replicating within the liver itself. Stelalte cells represent about 5-10% of the total number of hepatic cell and are located in space between endothelial cells and hepatocytes (Disses space). In addition to storing vitmin A, they are essential for the synthesis of extracellular matrix proteins and produce many growth factors that play an esse ntial role in biology of liver regeneration.5 Oval cells are the apparent pr ogenitors of liver hepatocytes and epithelial cell, and are found in regenerating liver after partia l hepatectomy or chemical damage.1 The liver involves in a wide variety of biochemical functions. The liver plays an important role in intermediary metabolis m of carbohydrates, amino acids, and lipids, including gluconeogenesis, synthesis and stor age of glycogen, production of glutamine, conversion of ammonia to urea, synthesis of very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) and so on. The liver is the center for biotra nsformation involved in detoxification and elimination of drugs as well as bilirubin. The liver is also the primary organ for synthesis and secretion of serum proteins such as albumin, transferrin, coagulation factors and complements. In addition, the liver produces bile, which is important for digestion and absorption of dietary lipid, and elim ination of cholesterol and copper. The liver develops from a divercul um of the floor of the foregut. 6 Under the induction of cardiac mesoderm, the founder cells (endodermal cells that give rise to the

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5 epithelial elements of the liver) start to activate liver-specific genes and invade the mesenchyma of the septum transversum. Endod ermal cells later generate hepatocytes and nonparenchymal epithelial cells, while the me senchyma give rise to sinusoidal lining cells. The early hepatocytes coalesce around sinusoids in the mesenchma, forming the liver bud. Early cells in the liver primordium are positive for -fetoprotein (AFP) and albumin. The more-differentiated parenchymal cells forming hepatic cords from day 10 to 17 in rat liver development are generally ca lled hepatoblasts, and can differentiate into hepatocytes and bile duct cells and thus have been consider ed equivalent to fetal liver stem cells. 7, 8 In rats, mice, and most likely also in humans, AFP+albumin+ hepatoblasts located near large vascular space close to the hilus give rise to primitive intrahepatic bile ducts. 7 These structures contain cells that express AFP and albumin as well as cytokeratines (CK) 7, 8, 18 and 19. In the rat, CK-7 and CK-19 are expressed exclusively in the newly formed ducts, while the surr ounding hepatoblastes contain only CK-8 and CK-18. 7 In humans, a significant proportion of hepatoblasts express CK-19 in early gestration. Expression of this marker increase s in cells near vasc ular spaces forming ducts, but progressively decreases and is no l onger detectable after 14 weeks of gestation in the hepatoblasts, which differentiate into hepatocytes in the re st of the parenchyma.9 Cells of primitive intrahepatic bile duct can be considered transitional because they express markers of both hepatocyte (AFP, albumin, CK-8, and CK-18) and bile duct (CK-7, CK-19) lineages, a pattern of expres sion also found in the oval cell compartment of hepatocarcinogenesis. These data suggested that the primitive intrahepatic bile ducts formed from AFP+, albumin+ hepatoblasts are embryologic count erparts of the oval cell.7

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6 Oval cells are the hetero geneous population of nonpare nchymal epithelial cells emerging from the portal triads at the early stage of liver carcinogenesis induced by most chemical carcinogens. Ultrastr ucturally, oval cells closely resemble cells that form terminal bile ductules, and th ey form irregular duct-like st ructures that enclose lumens, which connect to adjacent, pre-existing bile ducts. The oval cell compartment contains transitional cells that express phenotypic features of hepatocy tes and intrahepatic biliary epithelium. Lineage studies showed that thes e cells differentiate into hepatocytes and biliary epithelium.10, 11Given the proliferation pattern of the oval cell compartment in carcinogenesis and the differentiation of primitive intrahepatic bile duct in organogenesis, it is logical to expect putative stem cells in th e adult liver should be localized in the canal of Hering---the smallest units of the biliary tree closest to the parenchyma. Liver Regeneration Basic Characteristics of Liver Regeneration The liver has a remarkable capacity to rege nerate after major tissue loss. This has been demonstrated by a number of experimental liver injury models as well as clinical observations. A widely used model of liver repair is the partial hepatectomy (PHx) model. This involves surgical removal of specific lobes amounting to approximately twothirds of the liver mass. Liver regeneration is highly efficient. First described in 1931 by Higgins and Andersen, 12 rat liver grew back to its original mass approximately 10 days after the surgical resection. Th is process is fulfilled by enla rgement of the remaining lobe rather than re-growth of the removed lobe s. Thus, it is also called compensatory hyperplasia of the liver, alt hough the term liver regenerati on is used more often. In addition to cell proliferation, which makes up for the lost liver mass, reformation of normal liver architecture also occurs to ensure full restor ation of liver function. Similar

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7 results are also observed in other animal m odels involving diffused liver damage, such as hepatocyte necrosis or apoptosis induced by hepatic toxin or virus. The liver has an almost unlimited capac ity to regenerate. In repeated PHx experiments, the rat liver was able to rege nerate each time and achieved its previous mass, even after 12 se quential resections. 13 Serial transplantati on and liver repopulation in experimental animals further demonstrated the almost unlimited replication capacity of adult hepatocytes. In the alb-uPA transgenic mice, which experience severe liver damage and postnatal death of most pups, repopulation of nearly the entire liver occurs through proliferation of a small porti on (1%) of the hepatocytes that have undergone spontaneous transgene inactivation. 14 Subsequent studies by Rhim et al.15,16 showed that transplantation of both syngeneic and xynoge neic (rat and human) adult hepatocytes could be used to reconstitute the damaged livers of the newborn alb-uPA mice. Using a gene knockout approach, Overturf et al .(1997) created a mouse model of liver repopulation based on the human disease hereditary tyrosinemia type I, which is due to a lack of the enzyme fumarylacetoacetat e hydrolase (FAH), and renders a selective advantage to transplanted wild-type hepatocytes.17 In hepatocyte transplantationrepopulation studies using the FAH-/mouse mo del, they found that normal male adult hepatocytes, when transplant ed to female FAH knockout re cipients, could repopulate the recipient animals liver to >90% within 6 to 8 weeks. Rescue of FAH-deficient animals and restoration of liver function required as few as 1000 donor cells.18 Furthermore, the genetically marked donor hepatocytes could be re-isolated from repopulated recipient liver and re-transplanted in lim iting numbers. This process coul d be successfully repeated in a serial fashion at least eight times with no apparent decrease in proliferative potential

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8 and with no evidence of abnorma l liver function or hepatic ar chitecture. This experiment demonstrated that the regenerative potent ial of hepatocytes exceeds 69 cell doublings, equivalent to a 7.3 1020-fold expansion, and is similar to that of hematopoietic stem cells. Liver regeneration is a tightly regulated process. After PHx, the normally quiescent hepatocytes rapidly re-enter cell cycle. In rat liver, the rate of DNA synthesis in hepatocytes begins to increase about 12 hours after PHx and peaks around 24 hours.19 Other cells of the liver start DNA synthesi s about 24 hours after the hepatocytes. The original liver mass is restores in 5 to 7 da ys. After that, DNA synthe sis of hepatic cells abruptly stops. It is obvious the liver mass is precisely regulated. An example of this is when a large liver is transplanted into a rela tively small recipient; the liver is gradually decreases in size and become s proportional to the new body.20 Many believe that regulation of liver mass is key to maintain th e homeostasis of functional capacity of the liver. The set point for growth control is the ratio between liver mass and body mass rather than liver mass per se. In another wo rds, the body tends to maintain a liver mass only enough to meet its metabolic demands.21 How the body senses the liver/body mass ratio and control liver growth has been under intensive investigation for decades. Jirtle and Michalopoulos22 showed that when isolated hepatocytes are transplanted into an extrahepatic site, those cells enter into re plication after PHx. Mo lten and Bucher used parabiotic rats to show th at hepatectomy of one member of pairs causes DNA synthesis within the hepatocytes of the intact liver of the other member, with the maximum effect seen when the liver of one animal is totally removed.23 These early studies establish that factor(s) in circulation are responsible for tr iggering liver regeneration. Significant efforts have been exerted afterwards to identify thes e factors and dissect th e signaling pathways

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9 that control liver regeneration. Some growth f actors and cytokines have been shown to be critical players during the regenerative process. (Discu ssed in section hepatocyte dependent liver regeneration) Restoration of liver parenchym a after liver injury depends on a two-tier cell system composed of hepatocytes a nd progenitor (stem) cells, know n as oval cells. What is unique to the liver is that the differentiated ce lls (hepatocytes) constitute the first line of response to injury or resection, while the progenitor cells (oval cells) function as a reserve compartment. This is distinctly diffe rent from other tissues, such as skeletal muscle, in which differentiated myocytes do no t replicate, but regeneration after injury can occur through the pro liferation of precursor cells (sat ellite cells). Mature hepatocytes are very effective in responding to replica tive signals after PHx and have enormous proliferative capacity. As a general rule, replication of existing hepatocytes is the quickest way to repair damaged liver parenchym a. Oval cells replicate and differentiate into hepatocytes only when the replication of mature hepatocytes is delayed or entirely blocked, in situations such as 2-actylaminofluorene (2AAF) treatment followed by partial hepatectomy. Hepatocyte-dependent and oval cell-dependent liver regeneration will be discussed separately in following sections, using PHx and 2AAF/PHx as sample models respectively. Hepatocyte-Dependent Liver Regeneration: PHx as a Sample Liver regeneration after PHx is carried out by proliferation of all the existing mature cellular populations in remaining liv er. These include he patocytes; biliary epithelial cells; fenestrated endot helial cells; Kupffer cells; and Ito cells. All of these cells proliferate to rebuild the lost hepatic tissue. Hepatocytes are the firs t to proliferate. The kinetics of cell proliferation differs sli ghtly from species to species. In rats, DNA

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10 synthesis of hepatocytes typi cally starts at 10 to 12 hours post PHx. The first peak of DNA synthesis in hepatocytes occurs at about 24 hours, with a smaller peak between 36 and 48 hours. Because only two-thirds of the hepatic tissue is removed, restoration of the original number of hepatocytes theoreti cally requires 1.66 prolif erative cycles per residual hepatocyte. Most of the hepatocytes (95% in young and 75% in very old rats) in the residual lobes participate in one or two prolifer ative events. Hepatocyte proliferation starts in the periporta areas and then precedes to the pericentral areas by 36 to 48 hours. The other cells of the liver enter into DNA synthesis about 24 hours after the hepatocytes, with a peak of DNA synt hesis at 48 hours or later.19 The kinetics of ce ll proliferation and the growth factors produced by proliferating hepatocytes sugg est that hepatocytes provide the mitogenic stimuli leading to proliferation of the other cells. After 2 to 3 days of cell proliferation, new hepatocytes form clusters surrounding capillaries. Typical hepatic histology is gradually rest ored with the help of Ito cells, which send processes that penetrate the hepatocyte clumps and start produc ing several types of laminin. Eventually, the small hepatocyte cl umps become rearranged into the typical hepatocyte plates seen in the mature liver. The capillaries of the small hepatocyte clumps lose their basement membrane and change into true hepatic sinusoids, which are surrounded by very scant matrix and lined by fenestrated endothelial cells and Kupffer cells. By day 7, hepatic lobules are larger in size than those before regeneration. Hepatocytes are arranged in plates consisting of two cell layers as opposed to the one cell layer of the normal liver. It is not clear whet her there is a net increase in the number of lobules or whether existing lobules merely become larger in size, though evidence suggests that both phenomena occur.

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11 Hepatocyte regeneneration is accomplished by a sequence of distinct phases: an initiation phase, rendering hepatocytes in a state of replicative competence; a proliferation phase, where expansion of th e cell population population occurs, and a termination phase, where cell growth is suppr essed to terminate regeneration at a set point. The iniatiation step of live r regeneration is characteri zed by priming quiescent (G0) hepatocytes to enter a cell division cycle. Priming invol ves the activatio n of a group of transcription factors, which are necessary, but not sufficient for the S phase completion; they comprise the nuclear factor for kappa chains in B cells (NF B), signal transducer and activator of transcripti on-3 (STAT3), activator protei n-1 (AP-1), CCAAT enhancer binding protein (C/EBP ), and several immediate early genes, such as cfos cmyc and cjun The priming step is reversible until the cells have crossed the so-called G1 checkpoint, the cells thereupon being i rreversibly committed for replication. It is thought that loss of f unctional liver mass after PHx s timulates the release of a number of factors, acting in a cascade-like fashion. Gut-derived factors, such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS), are upregulated after liver injury or hepatectomy and reach the liver through the portal blood supply. They activate hepatic non-parenchymal cells (including Kupffer cells and st ellate cells) and in crease the production of tumour necrosis factor (TNF ) and interleukin 6 (IL-6). Other fact ors are released from the pancreas (insulin), duodenum or salivary gland (epide rmal growth factor; EGF), adrenal gland (norepinepherine), thyroid gland (triodothronine; T3) and stellate cells (hepatocyte growth factor; HGF). Cooperative signals from these factors push th e resting hepatocytes

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12 through cell-cycle checkpoint co ntrols, i.e. to move from G0, through G1, to the S phase of the cell cycle. This leads to DNA s ynthesis and hepatocy te proliferation.24 Principal factors active in initiation phase comprise two cytokines: TNFand interleukin-6 (IL-6), which render hepatocy tes in a state of replicative competence (priming). Kupffer cells produce most of the TNFand IL-6 in the liver after PHx. TNFacts through two different receptors, TNFR1 (CD 120a) and TNFR2 (CD 120 b) in affecting cell proliferati on, differentiation, and cell death. Using TNF-receptor-1 (TNF-R1) knockout mice, it was shown that TNFsignalling is required for a normal proliferative response after PHx.25 This effect seems to be largely mediated by the ability of TNF to induce IL-6, as treatment with IL-6 corrects the defect in DNA synthesis seen in TNF-R1 knockout mice after PHx. For unexpl ained reasons, however, the absence of TNFdoes not impair liver regeneration.26 TNFinduces the production of IL-6 by binding to its receptor on Kupf fer cells and activating NFB, which in turn activates transcription of IL-6 The potentially noxious effects of TNF, such as the release of reactive oxygen species (ROS ) from mitochondria, appear s to be controlled by the prompt up-regulation of survival genes that regulate mitochondrial membrane permeability, and hepatocytes may even expl oit a transient ROS surge to evoke a proliferative response.27 IL-6 is a key inducer of transcription fact ors involved in live r regeneration. Binding of IL-6 to its receptor IL-6R, which is a ssociated with two subunits of gp130, stimulates the tyrosine-kinase activity of the associat ed Janus-kinase-family member usually JAK1. Activated JAK then phosphorylates the associated gp130 and STAT3 on a Tyrosine residue, which results in the dimerization of STAT3. Dimerized STAT3

PAGE 23

13 translocates to the nucleus and activates the transcription of target genes. Stimulation of gp130 also activates the MAPK signaling ca scade, which is crucial for cellular proliferation, and recent eviden ce indicates that IL-6 signalli ng can also directly activate kinases that are involved in cell survival including phosphati dylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and AKT. IL-6 is elevated in the first hours after PHx, i.e. much earlier than DNA synthesis in hepatocytes. This increase of IL-6 activates the target genes that control G0/G1 transition through two main pathways--the STAT3 and MAPK signaling pathway. Liver regeneration after PHx is im paired in the livers of IL-6 / mice, and is characterized by liver necrosis and liver failure, a reduced DNA-synthesis response in hepatocytes, and discrete G1-phase abnormalities, including th e lack of STAT3 activation and selective abnormalities in gene expression.28 The defect is limited to hepatocytes as the DNAsynthesis response seems normal in IL-6 / non-parenchymal cells. Defective liver regeneration can be explained by the large number of immediate-early genes that are regulated, at least in part, by IL-6 pathway.29 Treatment of IL-6 / mice with IL-6 in the absence of partial hepatectomy induces a much smaller set of genes in the liver, which indicates that IL-6 cooperates with other factors that are induced by partial hepatectomy to activate the rest of the up -regulated genes. Stem-cell f actor (SCF), which binds the receptor tyrosine kinase Kit, is one of the targets of IL-6 signaling. The mechanism by which IL-6 activates SCF is unknown. However, regenerative changes in IL-6 / mice can be corrected by treatment with SCF. In addition, SCF can directly activate STAT3 independently of IL-6 signaling, and it is also known to activ ate the MAPK signaltransduction pathway.

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14 Once the cells have been primed, the progr ession to G1 phase is dependent on the presence of continued stimulati on by mitogens, such as EGF, TGFand most potent of all, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). HGF is synthesized by non-parenchymal ce lls, particularly stellate cells, and therefore affects hepatocyte s in a paracrine manner. In the rat, plasma concentrations of HGF rise more than 20-fold within 1 hour after PHx.30 HGF concentrations decline slowly during the first 24 hour s but remain elevated for mo re than 72 hours, eventually returning to normal. Since HGF has been show n to be a potent mitogen for hepatocytes in culture,31 it is reasonable to postulate that the rapid rise of HGF in the plasma 1 hour after PHx is responsible for leading hepatocy tes to DNA synthesis 23 hours later. This scenario is compatible with the time ki netics of the appearance of blood-borne regenerative factors as well as the rapid changes in immediate early gene expression. HGF induces expression of some immediate early genes,32 suggesting that HGF may be one of the stimuli leading to the rapid changes in ge ne expression after PHx. The HGF precursor, pro-HGF, is rapidly activated by proteasessuch as uPA (urokinase-type plasminogen activator) and it s downstream effector plasminogenafter PHx or liver injury. Blocking uPA delays th e appearance of HGF, and thereby delays liver regeneration, whereas blocking plasmi nogen-activator inhibitor (PAI) accelerates the release of HGF and thereby ac celerates liver regeneration. HGF regulates various proce sses in the liver, including direct stimulation of hepatocyte proliferation. As HGF and its recep tor, Met, are important growth factors in various tissues, and knockout of their genes re sults in a lethal phe notype, A liver-specific conditional knockout of Met was developed to show that the HGFMet pathway is

PAGE 25

15 important for DNA synthesis after liver injury.33 Also, pharmacologic tools, including antibodies and adenoviruses, have shown th at HGF and a downstream regulatorTGF function in the mitogenic response of the liver. Like many growth factors, HGF has pl eiotropic effects on various mitogenic signaling pathways. HGF activates the receptor tyrosine kinase Met as well as various downstream pathways, which include those th at involve PI3K, ERK, S6 kinase and AKT.34 In vitro studies in isolated hepatocytes indicat e that the mitogenic effect of HGF is mediated, in part, through upregula tion of another growth factor, TGF In contrast to HGF, which stimulates he patocyte replication by a paracrine or endocrine mechanism, TGF is an autocrine growth fact or, that is, it is produced by hepatocytes and acts on these cells through binding the EGF receptor.35 It can also function through a juxtacrine mechanism, which involves the binding of membrane anchored TGF from one cell to the EGF receptor of another. In this way, both cell adhesion and activation of the receptor are accomplished. TGF mRNA is induced in hepatocytes within 2 to 3 hour s after PHx, rises to a peak between 12 and 24 hours, and remains elevated for at least 48 hours after PHx.36 Enhanced expression of TGF in hepatocytes under the influence of the albumin promoter leads to sustained high levels of hepatocyte DNA synthesis and ev entually to tumor formation.37,38 Whether these findings apply to regenerati on, however, is not entirely clear. In TGF knockout mice, liver regeneration proceeds normally.39 This, however, may be due to a compensatory increase in other member s of the EGF receptor family of ligands. Other growth factors involved in liver re generation include epid ermal growth factor (EGF), acidic fibroblast growth factor (aFGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor

PAGE 26

16 (VEGF). Although EGF is not up-regulated early after PHx, it may play a mitogenic role in liver regeneration by abruptly becoming mo re available to hepatocytes after PHx. EGF is continually made available to the liv er by the Brunners glands of the duodenum, through portal circulation.40 EGF is taken up by liver in one pass and, as with HGF; it deposits itself in the periportal matrix.41 A decrease of hepatic mass to one-third by PHx increases the concentration of EGF (available through the porta l circulation) per unit liver weight by 3-fold. In addition norepinephrine, a substance that also increases dramatically after PHx, stimulates secretion of EGF by the Brunners glands,42 which may further increase the amount of EGF en tering the liver after PHx. Ra pid tyrosine phosphorylation and down-regulation of the EGF r eceptor occur s hortly after PHx,43 suggesting that EGF may indeed play a mitogenic role early in the process. Production of aFGF and VEGF may be part of a programmed set of events that aim to restor e normal histology, since both of them are well-estab lished angiogenic signals. Besides those growth factors that prov ide direct mitogenic signals to the progression of regeneration, some other fact ors function by enhanc ing the effect of mitogens and reducing the effect of inhibito ry substance. These factors include hormones and neurotransmitters, such as insulin, glu cagon, noradrenaline, adrenaline, thyroid and parathyroid hormones, as well as calcium and vitamin D. HGF and TNF IL-6 signaling are necessary fo r liver regeneration, but, as mentioned above, other signals and transcri ption factors are involved in the liverregeneration response that have not yet been linked to any on e growth factor or cytokine. There are a few signal-transduction mol ecules (for example, ERK and JNK), transcription factors (e.g. AP1 and C/EBP ) and other molecules (i. c. insulin-like-

PAGE 27

17 growthfactor-binding protein (IGFBP1), which seems to be regulated by both growth factors and cytokines. This allows speculat ion about how the combination of cytokine and growth factor signals might lead to robust liver regenera tion and repair after injury. Less is understood about the mechanisms by which regenerative process is stopped after appropriate liver mass has been restor ed. The termination re sponse should include arrest of cell proliferation and apoptosis of the redundant cells. The regenerative pathway has several checkpoints whereby the feedback inhibition of specific growth factor and cytokine-mediated pathways could regulate organ size. Suppressors of cytokine si gnaling (SOCS), as the name suggests, are important negative regulators of cytokine signaling th at prevent the tyrosi ne phosphorylation of STAT proteins. SOCS directly interact w ith phosphorylated JAK kinases and prevent the activation of STATs. It has been shown that IL-6 signaling in the liver causes the rapid upregulation of SOCS3 which correlates with the subsequent down-regulation of phosphorylated STAT3, thereby terminating the IL-6 signal.44 This finding could explain why overexpression of IL-6 can, at times, i nhibit cell growth and cause liver injury.45 The notable upregulation of SOCS3 and other cytokine inhibitors by IL-6 could block its own signaling or the signaling of ot her cytokines. However, SOCS proteins are part of an important mechanism that prevents uncontro lled cytokine signaling. In addition, IL-6 itself could have a role in terminating the HGF signal by inducing PAI (plasminogen activator inhibitor), whic h blocks the processing of pro-HGF into active HGF.46 Perhaps the most well-known hepatocyte anti-proliferative factors within the liver are TGF and related TGF -family members such as activin.47 TGF is produced mainly by hepatic stellate ce lls, and the up-regulated expression of TGF leads to liver fibrosis

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18 and apoptosis. In the rat, TGF mRNA increases within 3 to 4 hours after PHx, reaching plateau amounts at 48 to 72 hours.48 Because DNA synthesis in hepatocytes eventually stops at that time, it is reasonable to postula te that this may be mediated by a paracrine mito-inhibitory effect of TGF Infusion of TGF after PHx suppresses the hepatocyte DNA synthesis peak at 24 hours, th ough DNA synthesis returns by 72 hours.49 Hepatocytes isolated from regenerating liver 12 to 48 hours after PHx are resistant to TGF mitoinhibitory effects.50 This might be a consequen ce of the downregulation of TGF receptors on hepatocytes during the same time frame.51 Resistance to TGF by regenerating hepatocytes is an important phenomenon because it may allow hepatocytes to proliferate even thoug h concentrations of TGF1 are increasing. Sensitivity to TGF returns by 96 hours; however, hepatocyte pr oliferation stops betw een 48 and 72 hours, a time when they are still resistant to TGF Overall, the role that TGF1 plays during liver regeneration is not cl ear. Obviously hepatocytes proceed through regeneration despite the TGF increase. On the other hand, TGF1 is a mito-inhibitor and thus a logical candidate to cause the end of regeneration. Similarly, activin is a pro-a poptotic member of the TGF family that blocks hepatocyte mitogenesis. Activin shows dimi nished signaling during liver regeneration when its cellular-receptor leve l is reduced, but the receptor level is restored once liver regeneration is terminated.52 Apoptosis holds a key position in the intricate balance between gain and loss of target cells, also within a rege nerative response of the liver.53 There is evidence that, in the liver, a physiological role of the Fas/Fas ligand system is operational in the removal of senescent hepatocytes. In liver regenr ation after PHx in the rat, Fas mRNA is

PAGE 29

19 significantly decreased by 2 hour s, this down-regulation continuing until 18 hours, which then slowly recovers after 6 days,54 suggesting that physiological Fas expression is again achieved when liver mass has been reconstitute d. Liver caspase-3-like protease, which is specifically activated in apoptosis, is incr eased at 18 through 48 hours after PHx in rat;55 again suggesting that apoptos is is another key mechanism for termination phase. Bile ducts and biliary ductules regenerate in concert with the arterial vessels accompanying them, and the cells making part of the periductal sheath may modulate the ductular growth behavior via factors secreted by hepatic st ellate cells (Ito cells) and myofibroblasts situated here. Biliary epithe lial cells (BEC) have a regenerative response different from hepatocytes. In vivo BEC respond to PH with a delay of about 24 hours. In PHx animals, factors inducing a prolif erative response of BEC include epidermal growth factor, hepatocyte growth fact or, somatostatin, bile acids and IL-6. Based on the close anatomical and functiona l relationship, the formation of arteries (arteriogenesis) during liver regeneration may go in parallel with th e development of new bile ducts, but relatively few data are availa ble in this respect. An altered oxygen supply may be a main driving force for this arteri ogenetic response. As to the reconstitution of venous epithelium, it has been shown that an giopoietin, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and tubedown-1 (Tbdn-1 acetylt ransferase) may play an essential role56 in this process. VEGF is mainly expressed in the peri portal (zone 1) hepa tocytes. Following a regenerative signal in the liver, VEGF e xpression in this area is increased by 48-72 hours after initiation of the re sponse, and results in an augmentation of sinusoidal endothelial cell proliferation.57 This reaction is accompanied by a burst of hepatocyte proliferation within the same periportal zone probably owing to sinusoid reconstruction

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20 known to exert an influence on hepatocyte repl ication. Sinusoidal e ndothelial ce lls enter DNA synthesis cycle at 48 to 72 hours after PHx, and exhibit very early changes of their fenestration and porosity (open su rface area) features. After an initial rise of porosity at 5 min post-PH, porosity gradually decreases by 72 hours, to augment again afterwards, remaining elevated up to 14 days. The porosity nadir at 72 hours goes in parallel with the initiation of DNA synthesis, compression of si nusoidal endothelial ce lls by proliferating hepatocytes, and enveloping by hepatic stellate cells.58 Two types of endothelial progenitor cells take part in hepatic neoangi ogenesis. Type A cells are vascular-derived endothelial precursors, being present in large numbers, mi grating to the tip of the proliferating vessel, and exhibiting a short pr oliferative capacity. Type B cells derive from the circulating hemangioblast, are bone marrow-derived, migrate to sites of neoangiogenesis, occur in low numbers, and have a long-term proliferation potential. After partial PHx, hepatocytes proliferat e and form cell clusters of 10 cells.59 These clusters do not resemble normal liver architecture and are de void of extracellular matrix (ECM) Early changes in the composition of the hepatic extracellular matrix modulate the cellular re generative response. The formation of hepatocyte clusters with desinusoidalisation and ECM loss may be rela ted to the interaction between collagens and cell adhesion molecule expression.Hepatic ECM remodeling is thought to be a prerequisite process for hepatocyte pro liferation in hepatic regeneration, involving matrix-degrading proteases. PHx is followe d by a dramatic increase of membrane-type matrix metalloproteinase (MMP-14) and to a lesser extent of TIMP-1 (the MMP inhibitor) expression, whereas othe r MMP and TIMP are not induced.60 This is thought to be related to pericellular fibr inolysis or fibrolys is required for a distinct function of

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21 regenerating hepatocytes, and also to th e desinusoidalization process. There is a relationship between induced hepatocyte proliferation and th e expression of metalloproteinases involved in hepatic rem odeling. After hepatectomy, inactive matrix metalloproteinases (pro-MMP-2 and pro-MMP -9) are elevated at 30 min already, and activated at 6 to 12 hours and at 3 to 6 hours, respectively.61 TNF induces MMP-9 expression, but not MMP-2, and the increased hepatocyte pr oliferation is suppressed by TIMP-1. To restore normal tissue structure, stella te cells produce extracellular matrix about 4 days after partial hepatectomy, which re-establishes the connection between hepatocytes and the sinusoidal epithelium. In rat livers after PHx, mature stellate cells increase in number at day 7, i.e. much la ter than regenerating he patocytes, but occur together with proliferating hepatocytes forming clusters, i.e. in the phase of effacement of the perisinusoidal space. In addition to stellate cells located to the perisinusoidal space of Disse, stellate cells are situated in portal tracts, i.e. in an extralittoral compartment. These cells are in close relationship to small bile duc ts, and make part of th e so-called periductal sheath. Together with biliary ductules, th is cell system may be operational as a remodeling pacemaker.62,63 Stem Cell-aided Liver Regeneration It is believed that stem cells participat e in liver regeneration only when the ability of hepatocytes to divide and replace damage d tissue is compromised. Stem cells within adult liver are recognized as oval cells, whic h can be seen proliferating in many rodent experimental models (Table 1 1) as well as human livers suffering from chronic injuries. Oval cells are small in size (relative to hepatocytes) with ovoid nucleus and high

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22 nuclear to cytoplasmic ratio. Oval cells are obs erved to originate in the region of terminal bile duct within the periportal region, as liver damage progresses, they infiltrate into the parenchyma along the bile canalic uli between the hepa tic cords. As they migrate through the parenchyma, oval cells proliferate rapidl y, with labeling rates after pulse dose of 3Hthymidine of 5-20% during peak proliferation.64 As oval cells prolifer ate, individual and small group of small, highly basophilic hepa tocytes typically appear among them, after which the oval cells disappear and the pa renchyma is graduately reconstructed. Oval cells express different combinati ons of phenotypic markers from both the hepatocyte and biliary lineage (Table 1 2), suggesting that the term oval cell describes a heterogeneous cell compartment (or oval ce ll compartment) containing cells that may differ in their differentiation capacity and st age of differentiation. Some of these cells may function as hepatocyte progenitors, whereas others may commit to biliary epithelial lineage. Accordingly, oval cells are a multi potent cell population with the potential to differentiate into hepatocytes and biliary epithelia.10,11 During fetal liver development, hepatobl asts positive for AFP and albumin give rise to intrahepatic biliary epithelium, which is regarded as the embryologic counterparts of oval cell.7 In adult animal, the existence of an oval cell precursor population was initially suggested when a population of oval like cells negative for the expression of classical oval cell markers was found in the liver of 2AAF and/or allyl alcohol (AA) treated mice.65 These cells began to express AFP after 2 days, possibly because of a commitment to differentiate along the he patocyte lineage and, accordingly, it was assumed that oval cells were derived from progenitor cells located endogenously in the liver. An examination of the 3-D relationshi p between CK19-expressing cells in massive

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23 necrosis implies that the characteristic ductular reaction observed is caused by the proliferation of cells lining the canals of Hering, the junction betw een the hepatocyte canalicular system and terminal bile ducts.66 Likewise, AAF-induced oval cells are generated by the proliferation of terminal bile ducts, and they form structures representing an extension of the canals of Hering.67 Considering the first cells undergoing proliferation and differentiation into hepatocy tes are found in this region, it is reasonable to assume that the canals of Hering are the source of hepatic progenitor cells and their direct progeny, the oval cell. Another population of putativ e hepatic stem cells has be en identified in developing mouse liver, which possess multilineage differentiation potential and self-renewing capability.68 These cells are CD49+, CD29+, cMet+, c-kit, CD45, Ter119, and are designated hepatic colony-forming-unit in culture (HCFU-C). However, unlike oval cells, they do not express hepatocyte or cholangiocyte specific markers and c-kit.69 Cells derived from a single H-CFU-C expand in vitro and are capable of reconstituting hepatocytic, bile-ductal, pancreatic and intestinal structures in vivo .68 Whether H-CFUCs exist in the adult liver is not known, nor is their relationship be tween hepatoblasts or oval cells. Some non-hepatic adult stem cells have also been postulated to participate in liver regeneration under certain circumstance. One of these stem cells is hematopoietic stem cells. Evidence of a cell lineage relationship between the hematopoietic system and the hepatic oval cells is initially suggested by the finding that classical hematopoietic markers, including Thy-1, c-kit and CD34, ar e expressed on the surface of oval cells.70-73 Additionally, bone marrow transplantation of purified c-kit +, Lin and Sca-1+

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24 hematopoietic stem cells rescued fumarylacet oacetate (FAH)-deficient mice, an animal model of fatal hereditary tyrosinemia type 1.4 Cross-gender, or cross-strain, bone marrow and whole liver transplants in mice have id entified cells in the bone marrow that are capable of repopulating the liver.2,3 These results are support ed by human studies using archival liver biopsy specimens from recipien ts of cross-gender therapeutic bone marrow transplants who later developed chronic liver damage due to recurrent disease. Analysis for the presence of the Y chromosome in ce lls of liver biopsy specimens showed that bone marrow-derived cells give rise to he patocytes alone, or both hepatocytes and cholangiocytes.74,75 However, there is disagreement on the extent of engraftment. Alison et al reported a relatively low frequency of Y-chromosome positive hepatocytes (0.5 2%); whereas Theise et al reported that, even in mild c onditions, significant engraftment (5% for hepatocytes and 4% for cholan giocytes) occurred; while in cases of severe injury, up to 64% of pe riportal hepatocytes and 38% of cholangiocytes were donor derived. 74, 75 Hence, hematopoietic cells are capab le of migrating to the liver and differentiating into hepatocytes in rodents and humans; however dispute still exists about whether the bone marrow-derived hepatocytes are the products of cell fusion or transdifferentiation. Other bone marrow cells have been shown to differentiate into hepatocytes in vitro, although their role in liver regeneration remains unknown. Multipotent adult progenitor cells (MAPC) are a unique population of adult stem cells that can be isolate from the marrow of multiple mammalian species, including human, rat, and mouse. MAPCs are generated in culture by plat ing nonhematopoietic adherent cells and serial passaging. They are telomerase positive and grow stably in culture for many passages if kept at low

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25 density. These cells have properties similar to embryonic stem cells in that they can be differentiated toward many different lin eages in vitro under the appropriate conditions.76,77 These cell types include mesenchyma l lineages such as muscle, cartilage, and bone; neuroectodermal lineages such as different classes of neurons; and, endodermal lineages such as hepatocytes. Human and mu rine MAPCs, grown in matrigel in the presents of FGF-4 and HGF, changed their phenotype and expressed multiple hepatocyte functions, including urea synthesis, album in secretion, Phenobarbital-inducible cytochrome p450 induction, and others. In addi tion, the cells morphologically appeared hepatocytic and were fr equently binucleated.78 Stem cell aided liver regeneration is a highly regulated process involving interactions of multiple cell lineages a nd signaling molecules. In response to hepatocellular damage, the liver initiates an immune response. A complex array of cytokines and chemokines were secreted most importantly by Kupffer cells and hepatic stellate cells. Those cytokines may act in con cert to direct the migration of oval cell or bone marrow stem cell to the damaged ar ea, to control the proliferation and differentiation of stem cells and most likely regulate the remodeling of liver parenchyma. An incomplete list of these cytokines may include HGF, TGF, acidic fibroblast growth factor (aFGF), TNF, leukemia inhibitory fact or (LIF), stem cell factor (SCF), stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1), and IL-6 et al. TNF is an important cytokine associated with oval cell-aided liver regeneration. Inhibition of TNF by dexamethasone administra tion impairs the proliferation of hepatic cell populations following 2-AAF/PHx, complete ly suppressing activation of the oval cell compartment.79 Impaired oval cell prolif eration has also been obs erved in TNF receptor 1

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26 (TNFR1) knockout mice, suggesting that TNFR1 downstream signaling events are required for maximal oval cell proliferation.80 In addition, In vitro studies have shown that TNF stimulates proliferation of the LE/ 6 murine oval cell line. These studies have outlined the importance of the TNF family of ligands and receptors in the activation/proliferation of ova l cells. Although some TNF produc tion can be attributed to infiltrating inflammatory cells, the major ity of hepatic TNF produced during liver regeneration is Kupffer-cell derived. Depl etion of Kupffer cells by treatment with gadolinium chloride prior to bi le duct ligation completely ablates oval cell induction, but not ductular proliferation, suggesting that multiple cytokines produced by Kupffer cells are crucial to the process.81 Similarly, oval cell number decreased in the liver of 2-AAF/PHx rat when IL-6 production was inhibited by dexamethasone. This suggests its involvement in the activation of the oval cell compartment.79 However, comparison of the oval cell response to cocaine induced periportal injury in nor mal and IL-6 / mice demonstrated increased proliferation of periportal oval cells in IL-6 / mice, probably to compensate for the decrease in restorative prolif eration of hepatocytes, biliar y epithelia and sinusoidal cells in those animals.82 Ten days after injury, the liver was completely repaired in all mice, indicating that IL-6 is not essential for oval cell proliferation. It is feasible that other members of the IL-6 family, including leukemi a inhibitory factor (L IF) and/or oncostatin M (OSM), may compensate for the absence of IL-6 in these mice.83 Indeed, LIF is increased and remains elevated during ova l cell induction by 2 AAF/PH, suggesting that it may have a role in the expansion and differentiation of the oval cell compartment.84 Additionally, in situ hybridization has demonstrated LIF, LIF receptor (LIFR) and

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27 glycoprotein (gp)130 mRNA expression in ova l cells, with weak expression in parenchymal cells. Oncostatin M has recently been implicated in the maturation of fetal hepatocytes in vitro and in vivo ,85 and it may have a similar role in the hepatic differentiation of oval cells. -Interferon (IFN) is another inflammatory cyt okine considered to play an integral role in controlling st em cell-aided liver regeneration.86 Suppression subtractive hybridization following 2-AAF/PH identified gene s associated with the proliferation of oval cells including IFN, IFNreceptor subunit (IFNR ), IFNR primary response genes (gp91phox), IFNR secondary response genes such as ICE, CD54/ICAM-1 and uPAR, cytokines th at induce expression of IFN, which include IL1-b and IL-18, and cell adhesion molecules that regulate the in teractions between lymphocytes and epithelial cells; lymphocyte function associated molecule 1-a (LFA1a/CD11 and CD54/ ICAM-1). These proteins are all part of the complex cellular response associated with the IFN-g signaling cascade. -Interferon alone is not a hepatic mitogen, however, it can act synergistically wi th other growth factors such as EGF. Therefore, it has been suggested that in terferon functions to prime certain cell populations to respond to mitogenic stimuli. Evarts et al have shown that hepatic stellate cell prolifer ation is closely associated with oval cell proliferation. 87 Hepatic stellate cells expre ss hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), acidic fibroblast growth factor (a FGF), transforming growth factor-a (TGF ), and transforming growth factor-b (TGF). Interestingly, these cytokines have all been identified in regenerating liver followi ng PH. Although oval cells induced by 2-AAF/PH do not express HGF, they express mRNA for the HGF receptor, c-met.88,89 High levels of

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28 HGF mRNA are expressed by hepatic stellate cells proliferating in close proximity to oval cells, suggesting that he patic stellate ce ll-derived HGF may cause oval cell proliferation via the para crine activation of c-met.88 Furthermore, infusion of human recombinant HGF into rats following 2-AAF treat ment results in the expansion of several liver cell populations, in cluding the hepatic stella te cells and oval cells.90 Evidently, this situation also occurs in humans, as elev ated levels of serum HGF are present in individuals with chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis,91-93 both conditions in which oval cell proliferation is well documented.94,95 A marked increase of aFGF levels in the li ver has been reported at the peak of oval cell proliferation in the 2-AAF /PHx model, and levels greatly exceeded those observed after PHx alone, suggesting a prominent ro le for aFGF in oval cell-aided liver regeneration.89 High levels of TGFexpression are observed not only in hepatic stellate cells, but also in oval cells in the 2-AAF/PHx model.87,96 TGF expression is detected in oval cells and foci of ova l cell-derived hepatocytes.97 In contrast, TGFis implicated as a negative regulator of oval cell ac tivation. Transforming growth factor1 expression on smooth muscle actin (SMA)-pos itive hepatic stellate cells coincides with oval cell proliferation in the 2-AAF/PHx model and co rrelates with maximal oval cell apoptosis.98 As TGF1 is proposed to be a negative growth signal that controls liver size by the induction of apoptosis during compensatory hyperplasia, it is possible that TGF1 may assist in the remodeling of liver parenchym a during oval cell-mediat ed liver regeneration by terminating oval cell activation.98 The plasminogen activator and plasmin proteo lytic cascades also have an important function in stem cell-aided liver regeneration, wh ich is always associated with changes in

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29 the extracellular matrix. The plasminogen activator/plasmin system involves many proteins including urokinase type plasminoge n activator (uPA), tissue type plasminogen activator (tPA), the uPA receptor (uPAR), and plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI1).99 The upregulation of uPA mRNA has been observed during oval cell proliferation, and infusion of uPA enhanced the mitogenic response of cells locat ed near bile ducts after the administration of 2AAF. Expression of uPA, uPAR and PAI-1 is upregulated in the 2-AAF/PHx model of oval cell induction, and localized to the ductal structures formed by the oval cells.100 uPA expression was also det ected in non-parenchymal cells along the hepatic sinusoids. All these data suggest a significant role of plasminogen activator/plasmin system in remodeling of liver parenchyma and migration of oval cells. Stem cell factor (SCF) and its receptor, c-ki t, play a fundamental role in survival, proliferation, differentiation and migration of a variety of stem cells and may similarly affect oval cells. Stem cell factor is induced early in the activa tion of oval cells by 2AAF/PHx, but this is not observed following PHx alone.101 Oval cell precursors express both SCF and c-kit, suggesting that an auto crine mechanism may be involved, although the precise role of this receptorligand system in liver regeneration is unclear. Oval cell induction is significantly suppre ssed in Ws/Ws (white spotting on the skin) rats, in which the c-kit receptor tyrosine kinase (KIT) activity is severely impaired,70 implying an important role of SCF/c-kit interaction in oval cell activation. Stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1) has al so been thought to play a role in stem cell-aided liver regeneration.102-104 SDF-1 is up regulated in the liver of oval cell induction animal models but not in nonoval cell induction models. During oval cell induction in the rat, SDF-1 is expressed in th e hepatocytes, while the receptor CXCR4 is

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30 seen on the surface of oval cells. In vitro migration assay showed that oval cells responded to SDF-1 gradient and migrat ed to a high concentration of SDF-1.102 These data implied that SDF-1 may play a role in oval cell activation. A series of extensive studies have been conducted to investigate th e actual role of SDF-1/ CXCR4 interaction in stem cell-aided liver regeneration; and will be elaborated in the following chapters of this manuscript. Stromal Cell-Derived Factor 1 SDF-1 was initially cloned by signal sequence trap strate gy to detect polypeptides secreted from bone marrow stromal cells. 105 It is produced by multiple bone marrow stromal cell types, such as osteob lasts, endothelium and adipocytes,106-108 and by epithelial cells in many organs, such as br ain, thymus, heart, l ung, liver, kidney, spleen, stomach and intestine.105-106 It is also expressed during embryogenesis, for example in brain, liver, heart and bone marro w spindle-shaped stromal cells.109 SDF-1 belongs to CXC chemokine famil y. Its only known receptor CXCR4 is a seven transmembrane G-protein coupled recepto r that widely expressed by a variety of cell types in developing embryo and adult organs such as brain, lung, heart, thymus, lymph node, spleen mouse, bone marrow, stomach, small intestine, colon, liver and kidney.110 SDF-1 was originally identified as a significant growth factor for pre-B cells.106 Studies with knockout models revealed that murine embryos which lack SDF-1 or CXCR4 have multiple defects which cause high degree of embryonic and perinatal lethality. These mutant mice exhibit a lack of circulating B lymphocytes that is associated with a severe reduction of thei r precursors in the liver a nd bone marrow, a defect in myelopoiesis limited to the bone marrow compartment (although normal in the

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31 extramedullary hematopoietic sites), while the developments of T cells and thymus appear normal.109,111 transplantation of CXCR4 / fetal liver cells to irradiated wild-type mice perform poorly in rec onstitution of adu lt bone marrow B cell and myeloid precursors.112,113 The decreased numbers of B cell and myeloid precursors in CXCR4/ fetal liver and reconstituted bone marrow are accompanied by the abe rrant appearance of the precursors in the bloods tream, indicating that CXCR4 is necessary for retention of these progenitor cells within the fetal liver and bone marrow.112 These results demonstrate an essential role for SDF-1/CXCR4 axis in B cell lymphopoiesis and myelopoiesis during embr yonic development. In addition, SDF1/CXCR4 interaction has been implicated in homing of more primitive hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) to the bone marro w. Human CD34+ (multipotential) HPCs express CXCR4 and migrate in response to SDF-1 in vitro ,114,115 and pretreatment with blocking antibodies against CXCR4 inhibite d engraftment of human CD34+ HPCs in NOD/SCID mice,116 consisting with a role in HPC recruitment to the bone marrow. CD34+ cells migrating toward SDF-1 in clude cells with a primitive phenotype (CD34+CD38+ and CD34+HLA-DR-) as well as CFU-mix (=CFU-GEMM), BFU-E, and CFU-GM. HPC recruitment to the bone marrow is critical for engraftment in clinical bone marrow transplantation and may also be important during embryogenesis when hematopoiesis moves from the fetal liver to the bone marrow. SDF-1 expression can be detected in murine fetal liver as early as embryonic day E10.5E12.5, the period of fetal liver colonization by HPCs; SDF-1 falls off sharply as HPCs begin to emigrate from the liver to the bone marrow (E14.5).117 On the other hand, mobilization of HPCs from bone marrow to peripheral circulation is also partially controlle d through SDF-1/CXCR4

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32 interaction. Elevation of SDF1 level in the serum or disr uption of the CXCR4 function by its antagonist induce mobilization of HPCs.118,119 These findings indicate that SDF-1/CXCR4 axis not only influence the efficien cy of stem cell engraftment into the bone marrow but also modulate the mobilization of the stem cells from bone marrow to peripheral blood. Beisdes the defect in lym phopoiesis, the SDF-1/CXCR4-deleted mice also display defects in the development of hear t, large vessel, gonad and cerebellum.109,111,120 These facts suggest that SDF-1/CXCR4 axis may pl ay more general role during organogenesis. Indeed, a whole body of evidence has accumulated that functional CXCR4 is also expressed on the surface of several tissue committed stem/progenitor cells such as primordial germ cells,120 skeletal muscle sa tellite progenitor cells,121 neural stem cells,122 retinal pigment epithelium progenitors.123 Finally, we recently found that functional CXCR4 is al so expressed on rat hepatic oval cells.102 Furthermore, CXCR4 ligand, SDF-1 is expre ssed/secreted by severa l tissue/organs not only during organogenesis but also in re sponding to tissue damage. Based on these observations, it is possible that SDF-1/CXCR4 axis also regulate tissue regeneration by tissue-committed stem cells. Although the role of SDF-1/CXCR4 interaction in these processes is not fully elucidated, compelling evidences suggest that the mechanisms for SDF-1 function may include enhancing the su rvival, proliferation, motility, adhesion, chemotaxis, and secretion of certain factor s in the target cells bearing the receptor CXCR4. All of these effects result from th e activation of several crucial signaling pathway elicited by SDF-1/CXCR4 in teraction on the target cells.

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33 Binding of SDF-1 to CXCR4 triggers th e association of the latter with G i protein and subsequent signaling cascade. The most important pathways include activation of calcium flux, focal adhesion components, such as proline-rich kina se-2 (Pyk-2), p130Cas, focal adhesion kinase, paxilin, Crk and Cr k-L, protein kinase C, phospholipase C(PKC) as well as MAPK p42/44-ELK-1 and PI-3K-AKT-NFB axes.124-128 Strong phosphorylation of focal adhesion components and MAPK p42/44 and serinethreonine kinase AKT is observed within seconds after CXCR4 activation.129 CXCR4 signalling also involves several src-related kina ses and T-cell activating molecule ZAP-70.130 JAK2 and JAK3124 and Tyk-2131 may also associate in some cell types with CXCR4 and are activated, probably by tran sphosphorylation, in a G i-independent manner. As a consequence of this several members of the STAT family of transcription factors may become recruited and phosphorylated. Howeve r, involvement of STAT proteins in signaling from activated CXCR4 may depend on the cell type. For example, while STAT 2 and 4 but not STAT 1, 3, 5 and 6 beco me activated in the haematopoietic CTS progenitor cell line,132 STAT 1, 2, 3 and 5 but not STAT 4 or 6 become activated in MOLT4 cells.131 SDF-1 induced cell mobility and chemotaxis are associated with PI-3K-AKT axis, which regulated rearrangement of F-actin in the leading edge of the migrating target cells. The migration of normal hematopoietic cells is inhibited by employing LY290042, a specific inhibitor of PI3-kinase.133 The role of the PI-3K-AKT pathway in cell motility is further supported by the observation that murine cells with a disrupt ion of a single gene encoding PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homologue), a negative regulator of AKT phosphorylation/activation, show enhanced phosphorylation of AKT, and as a result

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34 enhanced chemotaxis to SDF-1.134 SDF-1mediated cell motility and chemotaxis, however, is affected by seve ral other signaling events probably involving MAPK p42/44 and phosphatases.135 The activation of PI-3KAKT pathway by SDF-1/CXCR4 interaction also leads to the activation of NF B which in turn induces cell se cretion of MMPs (e.g., MMP-2 and MMP-9), nitric oxide and some a ngiopoietic factors such as VEGF.136,137 These factors secreted by target cells may pl ay an important role in rem odeling of extracellular matrix and facilitating angiogenesis indispensabl e for tissue repairing and even tumor metastasis. It is known that SDF-1 modulates adhesi on of cells to fibrinogen, fibronectin, stroma and endothelial cells.116,129,136,138 This pro-adhesive effect of SDF-1 is mediated by the activation of various adhesi on molecules (e.g., integrins) on the surface of target cells rather than by increasing their de novo expression on the cell surface. 116,136 The integrins activated by SDF-1 include LFA-1 (lymphocyt e function associated antigen-1), VLA-4 (very late activation anti gen-4) and VLA-5 (very la te activation antigen-5).116 SDF-1 induced firm adhesion and tr ansendothelial migration in human CD34+ haematopoietic cells through LFA-1/ICAM-1 (intracellular adhesion molecule-1) and VLA-4/VCAM-1 (VLA-4/vascular adhesion molecule-1) interac tions. These interactio ns were inhibited by pertussis toxin and cytochalasin D, indicating the involvement of G i protein downstream signalling and the requir ement of an intact cytoskeleton.116,136 The effect of SDF-1 on cell pr oliferation and survival rema ins controversial. It has been shown in some experimental conditions that SDF-1 can stimul ate the proliferation and survival of haematopoietic cells, and th e pro-survival effect of SDF-1 on purified

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35 CD34+ CD38+ bone marrow mononuclear cells was PI-3K-AKT axis dependent.139-141 In their studies, Zhou and Bonavi a found that SDF-1 can also st imulate the proliferation and survival of astrocytes and some tumour cell lines.142,143 The proliferation effect of SDF-1 on astrocytes was MAPK p42/44 dependent be cause it is sensitive to inhibition by PD98059, an inhibitor of MEK kinase the activator of MAPK p42/44.143 SDF-1 was found to be a survival factor for glioma and glioblastoma cells. This effect correlated with a prolonged activation of the pr o-survival kinases AKT and MAPK p42/44.142,143 However, several other tumour cell lines di d not respond by proliferation or increased survival to stimulation by SDF-1. However, according to Majka and Kijowski, SDF-1 did not affect the proliferation/su rvival of certain ce lls of hematopoietic lineage such as human CD34+ stem/progenitor cells, erythrob lasts, megakaryoblasts, myeloid cells and T-, B-lymphoid cell lines, although it indu ced the phosphorylation of MAPK p42/44 and AKT.136,145 These data suggest that in addi tion to MAPK p42/44 and AKT, other complementary pathways also had to be activ ated simultaneously in the target cells in order to increase their proliferation/survival. The activity of SDF-1/CXCR4 axis is modul ated by several external factors. The N-terminus of CXCR4 and the first extrac ellular loop are cruc ial for SDF-1. Thus enzymatic cleavage of CXCR4 N-terminus by the leucocyte-derived proteases inhibits CXCR4 signaling. The proteases released from activated leucocytesmay also cleave SDF-1 and negatively regulate SDF-1 activ ity. In addition, SDF-1 may also be N-terminally truncated by cell surface expressed CD26/dipeptidylpeptidase IV, and as a result, the truncated SDF-1 does not possess ch emotactic activity and may act even as an antagonist of CXCR4. Furthermore, it has b een reported that CXCR4 signaling may also

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36 be desensitized in Band T-lymphocytes by MIP-1 or RANTES which activate another G-protein-coupled chem okine receptor CCR5.146,147 The molecular mechanism of this cross-desensitization between chemokine recepto rs is unclear, but it is likely that it involves regulators of G-prot ein signalling (RGS) proteins. Recently several molecules had been identified that may increase the sensitivity/responsiveness of CXCR4+ cel ls to SDF-1. These molecules include inflammation factors such as an aphylatoxin C3a, uPAR, thrombin, hylauronic acid, platelet-derived microvesicles and ECM components such as fibronectin, fibrinogen and VCAM-1. They were found to significantly increase the chemotaxis of haematopoietic cells to low/threshold doses of SDF-1.148-151 In conclusion, the SDF-1CXCR4 axis is an important player during organogenesis and tissue regeneration. On e of the major effects of this important signal is to direct the migration of stem/progenitor cells including hepatic oval cells. The present study is focused on the involvement of SDF-1/CXCR4 ax is in stem cell-aided liver regeneration.

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37 Table 1-1. Rodent models of oval cell induction Table 1-2. Liver cell lineage markers Treatment Reference Rat Azodyes (AZD) 53 2-actylaminofluorene and partial hepatectomy (2AAF/PH) 54 Galactosamine 55 Choline deficient, ethionin e supplemented (CDE) diet 56 Diethylnitrrosamine (DEN) 57 Retrosine and partial hepatoectomy 58 Mouse Dipin 59 3,5, -Diethoxycarbonyyl-1,4-dihydro collidine (DDC) 60 Phenobarbital, cocaine and partial hepatectomy 61 Marker oval cells hepatocytes biliary duct epithelium Albumin + + + -fetoprotein (AFP) + fetal only -GST + fetal only + cytokeratin 8 (CK8) + + + cytokeratin 14 (CK14) + (human) cytokeratin 18 (CK18) + + + cytokeratin 19 (CK19) + (rat, human) + OV6 + (rat, human) + OC.2 + (rat) + (rat) A6 + (mouse) + (mouse)

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38 CHAPTER 2 EXPRESSION OF SDF-1 DURING OVAL CELL ACTIVATION Introduction Hepatic oval stem cells are recognized as playing an impor tant role in the etiology of liver growth and developmen t, as well as in hepatic carcinogenesis.10,152-154 Initiation of hepatic oval cells is necessary when a severe liver necro-inflammatory insult cannot be corrected through repl ication of mature hepatocyte s. The signal(s) triggering oval cell participation in the regenerative process is still unknown. A key assumption to oval cell research to date has been that the ov al cells are native to the liver. This approach may be only partly representative of a wide range of regenerative responses responsible for reconstituting the hepatic mass. For instan ce, we now know that hepatocytes and bile duct ep-ithelium can also be extr a-hepatic derived from bone marrow.2-4,74,75 What is unknown, however, is how bone marrowderived cel ls, presumably stem cells, migrate and trans-differentiate into hepatocytes and bi le duct epithelial cel ls. For this to happen, two events must occur: (i) the mobilizati on of precursor cells residing in the bone marrow, and (ii) the homing and engrafting of precursor cells into the regenerating liver. Cytokines or other humoral agents, released into the blood circul ation by the injured liver, could very well promote the first even t and determine its magnitude. The same or similar agents, along with the extent of liver lobular architectural disruption created by the injury, could affect the efficiency of the second event. We set out to identify a possible mechanism for oval cell activation in the injured liver. During embryogenesis the liver develops from a diverticulum of the floor of the

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39 foregut,6,155,156 where the founder cells invade the mesenchyme of the septum transversum. Endodermal cells eventually give rise to hepatocyte s and the bile duct epithelial cells, while the mesenchyme gives rise to cells that make up the sinusoidal lining. During fetal development, the liver functions as the hematopoietic organ.157,158 The hematopoietic cells found in the developi ng liver are of extrahepatic origin, being derived from stem cells of the yolk sac159,160 and the aorta-gonad-mesonephros (AGM).161 Recruitment of the extra-hepatic cells to the embryonic liver is required for proper development, but the signals required by which HSCs respond and the mechanism of their movement within the fetu s is not totally understood. It ha s been suggested that this movement could be controlled through th e SDF-1/CXCR4 homing interaction between the hematopoietic and stromal cells.162,163 The importance of SDF-1 a and CXCR4 in hematopoiesis is supported by observations of embryonic lethality in knockout mice with targeted disruption of the genes for either SDF-1109 or its receptor CXCR4.111,113,164 The expression of CXCR4 on a majority of the CD-34 positive and negative cells and a demonstrated role of SDF-1 a inducing chemotaxis in th ese cells strongly suggests that the most primitive hematopoietic population including stem cells is responsive to a SDF1 chemotactic gradient.165-167 To date, several reports have shown he patic oval cells and HSCs share a similar immunohistochemical profile, being positive for Thy-1, CD-34 and c-Kit.71,72,101,168 In addition, the findings of Lagasse et al. (2000) demonstrated that it was indeed the Sca+/Thylo/kit+/linsub-population of the bone marrow cells that was capable of becoming hepatic tissue.4 Using various types of rat liver regene ration models, normal (non-oval cellaided [i.e. allyl alcohol, AA and CCl4]) and oval cellaided models (i.e., 2acetylaminofluorene

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40 (2AAF)/CCl4, 2AAF/PHx and 2AAF/AA),72,168 we tested whether or not SDF-1 protein regulation was affected in a positive or negative manner. Western immunoblotting was used to determine if the type of liver regene ration model affected SDF-1 protein regulation. In addition, immunohistochemistry for SDF-1 was performed on rat liver sections to determine what cel l type, if any expresses the protein. Also, immunohistochemistry for CXCR4 expressi on was performed on sorted cells to determine if oval cells expressed the only known receptor for SDF-1. The results described herein show that, when oval cells are involved in the regenerative process, SDF-1 is up-regulated during the ov al cell proliferation proce ss. However, under normal, non-oval cellsaided regeneration, SDF-1 protein expression was not detected. In the former condition, it was found that the oval cells express the SDF-1 receptor, CXCR4, while SDF-1 was expressed by the liver parenchyma These data indicate a possible mechanism by which oval cells are activated in the injured liver. Materials and Methods Materials and Subjects Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), 99% pure HPLC grade and 2-acetylaminofluorene (2AAF) were purchased from Aldrich Chemical C o. (St. Louis, MO). 2-AAF crystals were incorporated into time released pellets ( 70 mg/pellet over 28day release, 25. mg/day) by Innovative Research Inc. (S arasota, FL). Male Fischer 344 rats (150 g) were obtained from Fredericks Labor atories (Frederick, MD). Mi croscope Superfrost Plus slides and buffered Formalin-Fresh were obt ained from Fisher Scientific (Pittsburgh, PA). Iscoves Media was obtai ned from Invitrogen Corporat ion (Carlsbad, CA). Unless otherwise stated, all other chemicals were pur chased from Sigma (St. Louis, MO). All animal protocols have been approved by the University of Florida Animal Care and

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41 Usage Committee and were conducted within those gui delines. SDF-1 a antibody and protein was purchased from R&D Systems In c. (Minneapolis, MN) and CXCR4 antibody was bought from Santa Cruz Biotechnology Inc. (Santa Cruz, CA). Thy-1 antibody was obtained from BD Pharmigen (San Diego, CA ). Secondary antibodies (Vector Blue and DAB Peroxidase) were purchased from Vector Laboratories (Burlingame, CA). Liver Regeneration Models The basic design of the liver injury alone and the 2AAF/Injury models have been described previously.169, 170 Briefly, a 2-AAF pellet (70 mg /28 day release, 2.5 mg/day) was inserted subcutaneously 7 days prior to induction of hepatic injury by protocols similar to those described by Novikoff et al. (1996) and Hixson et al. (1990).171, 172 Normal rat liver was used as a zero time cont rol. For the chemically induced liver injury, a single LD50 dose of AA (37 mg/kg body weight) was administered by intra-peritoneal (i.p.) injection of a 1:50 dilution (vol/vol) in 0.9% saline solution, or a single LD50 dose of CCl4 (1,500 mg/kg) was administered i.p as a 1:1 (vol/vol) dilu tion in corn oil. Partial hepatectomies (PHx; 70%) were performed as described by Higgins and Anderson (1931).12 Protein Preparation and Western Blot Analysis The protocol for protein preparation is fully desc ribed by Kim et al. (1997).173 Briefly, total liver lysates were prepared by homogenizing livers of rats subjected to either normal (non oval cell) or oval cell aide d regeneration protocols with 10 mM TrisHCl (pH 7.6) containing 1% sodium dodecyl su lfate (SDS) in the pr esence of 100 mg/mL bovine serum albumin, 5 mM Na2ethylenediamineatatra acetic acid (EDTA), 0.1 mM sodium o-vanadate, 1 mM phenylmethylsuf onyl fluoride, fluoride, 50 mM sodium fluoride, 30 mM sodium pyrophosphate decahydr ate (PP1), 10 mg/mL pepstain, 5 mg/mL

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42 trans-Epoxysuccinyl-L-leucylamido( 4-gua nidino) butane (E64), 10 mg/mL aprotinin, and 50 mM 1,10phenanthroline. Insoluble ma terial was removed by centrifugation at 14,000 g before assaying for protein concentration. For the crude soluble and insoluble fractions the liver tissue from rats subjected to the above mentioned liver regeneration protoc ols were isolated at the indicated time points (n=3) and then homogenized with 10 mM Tris-HCl (pH 7.6), 5 mg/mL E64 1 4 mM diisopropylphosphate, 10 mg/mL each of proteinase inhibitors pepstain and leupepin, 1 mM Na3VO4, and 1 mM EDTA. To prepare the insolubleand solubleenriched fractions, the homoge nates were centrifuged at 15,000 g for 3 h at 4C. The crude soluble and insoluble fr actions or whole lysate (5 mg protein) were mixed equal volumes of SDS sample load-ing buffer and separated by 8% gradient SDS polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis gels in the presence of 2mercaptoethanol as described by Laemmli et al. (1970).174 Proteins were electrotransferred onto Immun-Blot PVDF membrane (BioRad, Hercules, CA), membranes were then blocked with 2% bovine serum albumin (Boehringer Mannheim) for 1 h at room temperature (RT) or overnight at 4C, followed by incubation w ith primary antibody, Biotinylated Anti-SDF-1a/PBSF, in 1 3 TBST for 2 h at RT. The me mbrane was washed with 1 3 TBST for 30 min at RT with a minimum of three wash changes, then incubated with Strepavidin-Peroxidase Polymer Labeled (Sigma, S9420) for 1 h at RT. The membranes were then washed with 1 3 TBST for approximately 10 min with three changes of wash, the first being a quick rinse of the membrane and the others lasting from 3 to 7 min at RT. After the rinse, the membrane was incubated with ECL1Plus solution (Amersham,

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43 Arlington Heights, IL) according to the protocol provided by the company. Chemiluminescence was detected using x-ray film (LPS, Rochester, NY). Immunohistochemistry A basic immunohistochemical protocol prev iously described by Michalopoulos et al. (1999) was used with slight modificat ion to conform to each particular antibody.175 SDF-1 was used at a dilution of 1:10. While immunohistochemistry for CXCR4 was carried out using a 1:25 dilution. Secondary antibodies were used at 1:100 dilution. Liver tissue was divided and fi xed in either 10% buffered fo rmalin or placed in OTC compound and frozen in cold 2Methylbutane (Fis her Scientific, Pittsburgh), then stored at 280C until needed. All staining procedures for light microscopy were carried out on 6mm-thick frozen sections or 4m m-thick paraffin sections. Routine histological examinations were made for all liver tissu e samples on sections (paraffin and frozen) stained with hematoxylin and eosin. Single cells suspensions were collected on glass slides by cytocentrifugation and air-dried. Cy tocentrifugation was done using a Cytospin 3 Cytocentrifuge (Shandon Inc, Pittsburgh) 6 min at 600 rpms. Immunohistochemistry on cytospin preparations (100,000 cells/slide) wa s performed using the techniques described above. For each antibody negative controls were performed by either blocking with appropriate non-immune serum or by omitting the primary antibody from the protocol. Migration Studies Primary Thy-1+ hepatic oval cells were isolated as previously described by Petersen et al. (1998a).72 Motogentic assays were performed on polycarbonate membrane 5-mm pore size tissue culture-treated Transwell in serts (Costar, Cambridge, MA). Cells were plated at high density (1 00,000/mL) for 2 h in serum free Iscoves media supplemented with gentamycin (50 mg/mL) and insulin (1 10-7 mol/L). After 2 h, cells were

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44 stimulated with SDF-1 protein (100 ng/mL), either adding it to the bottom chamber or to the top chamber or in both chambers. Time points of 4 and 6 h post SDF-1 exposure were examined for cell migrations through the memb rane (n=3/time point). As a control, cells were treated in the same manner with the exception that no SDF-1 was introduced to the medium. Cells on inserts were fixed and stained as previous ly described. The cells that attached to the top of the membrane were completely removed by rubbing with a cottontipped applicator after the st aining. Cell debris was washed away using 1% PBS. Cells that had migrated through to the bottom of the membrane we re counted and compared to wells that did not receive SDF-1 exposure. Data obtained wa s subjected to Students t test to generate a p value to show significance. Results SDF-1 Protein Expression in Vari ous Liver Regeneration Models We have previously shown that oval cells do not play an important role in normal liver regeneration brought on by CCl4 poisoning170 or PHx156. In addition, we have also shown that, to fully activate the hepatic oval cells to proliferate, an inhibitory factor, such as 2AAF, must be involved.169,170 Protein lysate from liver were obtained from rats exposed to acute dose of CCl4 (alone) and 2AAF/CCl4 at various time points following hepatic injury. In order to st udy liver regeneration in these two models, different sets of time points were used. Compensa tory regeneration (i.e., PHx, CCl4) is completed within 120 h post-injury; therefore, it is nece ssary to use early time points during the regenerative process. Subsequently, hours we re used instead of days, whereas in oval cellaided regeneration, it is necessary to use time points in days based upon the fact that the peak of oval cell proliferation is reported to be around day 9 post-hepatic injury.170 If SDF-1 were to play a role in the normal liver regeneration process, one would assume

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45 that the SDF-1 protein would be up regulated at some point during the process. As seen in Figure 2 1A, no protein was detected at any tim e during the normal repair process. However, when the hepatocytes have been exposed to 2AAF followed by CCl4 injury, a band for SDF-1 can be observed as early as day 1 and continues unt il day 13 post-hepatic injury (Fig. 2 1B). The day-13 time point has been reported to show the differentiation of oval cells to hepatocytes.170 To further characterize these results, we separated liver lysates into crude soluble and insoluble fractions. SDF-1 has been reported to be associated with membrane bound proteins, including integrins to direct st em cells to specific sites within the body,176 we performed Western immunoblotting on the memb rane fraction of these two different hepatic injury models (Fig. 2 2). Again, in the acute CCl4 injury model (Fig. 2 2A), no signal can be seen, indicating that SDF-1 is not involved in liver regeneration under these circumstances. As seen in the oval cell model of 2AAF/CCl4 (Fig. 2 2B), the protein is highly up-regulated, confir ming our results seen in Figure 2 1. Because SDF1 is associated with the membrane and the to tal lysate was fractionated, this may explain why there is such a difference between Figures 2 1 and 2 2. The inflammatory response brought about by CCl4 poisoning could possibly a ccount for the more active oval cell proliferation observed in the 2AAF/CCl4 model than that seen the 2AAF/ PHx model. Liver injury induced by PHx has been s hown to up-regulate similar chemokines as CCl4 177 but does not elicit an inflammatory respons e. We have previously shown that in the 2AAF/PHx model there appears to be a less pronounced activation of oval cell proliferation, at least by histological technique.170 To confirm the 2AAF/CCl4 results, we

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46 examined SDF-1 protein expression in another oval cell model, 2AAF/PHx. As seen in Figure 2-3C, the 2AAF/PHx models exhibit SDF-1 expression. Although expression appears to be not as intense as the 2AAF/CCl4 model it too appears to exhibit the same pattern of expression. In the 2AAF/PHx model at about day 13 pos t-hepatic injury, it appears that the protein is down-regulated. This is the time that oval cells have been reported to begin their differentiation into hepatocytes.87, 170 Figure 2-3C confirms the data seen in Figures2-1B and 2-2B, showing that SDF-1 is up-regulated when oval cells are present in the regene rating liver. If SDF-1 were involved in the inflammatory response, the protein would have been observed in the acute CCl4or AA-alone models, but this was not the case. In addition, becaus e 2AAF/PHx model does not induce an inflammatory response, but does induce an ova l cell response as well as expression of the SDF-1 protein, this provides a s econd model to link the SDF-1 protein to oval cell activation pathway. Immunohistochemistry for SDF-1 and CXCR4 Figure 2-4 represents immunohistochemistry of SDF-1 on liver tissue sections from both oval cell aided re generation models (2AAF/CCl4 and 2AAF/PHx). As shown in Figure 2-4A, there appears to be a sli ght staining pattern of SDF-1 in the normal liver. As seen in low power magnification fields, the 2AAF/CCl4 and 2AAF/PHx (Fig. 2-4C,D), respectively, the staining for SDF-1 was on hepatocytes that appeared to be closest to the proliferating oval cells. At higher magnificati on the individual hepatocytes can be seen staining positive for SDF-1 (Fig. 24E,F). It may also appear that the level of expression may depend upon the type of damage (inflammatory, C and E; or non-

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47 inflammatory, D and F). The immunohistoche mistry does support our Western analysis. The fact that SDF-1 is up regulated further goes to s upporting the concept that oval cells could be activated or recruited to an injured liver in response to a chemotactic gradient. It should be noted that the staini ng patterns we show appears to be consistent in staining described by Pabl os et al. (1999).178 In order to complete the pathway for SD F-1, its receptor must also be involved. Figure 2-5 represents immunohistochemistry of CXCR4 on tissue sections from both models of oval cellaided re generation (2-AAF/CCl4 and 2-AAF/PHx). Little to no staining can be seen in normal rat liver (Fig. 25A). As seen in the photomicrographs only the oval cells appear to be expressing the receptor (Fig. 2-5C, D). We have previously shown that oval cel ls express the hematopoietic stem cell marker Thy-1 and through ce ll sorting techniques we can obtain a highly purified population of Thy-1+ oval cells. In addition, we have previously reported this isolated population of cells to be lineage negative as well, meaning they do not express markers that would define them to be co mmitted toward a specific lineage.72 Thy-1FITC labeled sorted cells were cytocentrifugated (Fig. 2-5G green) on to microscope slides and stained for CXCR4Texas Red the receptor for SDF-1 (Fig. 2-5E, red). As seen in Figure 2-5F, the merged image (yellow) reveals th at the oval cells do indeed express the receptor indicating a possible protein -receptor interaction pathway for activation/recruitment of oval cells in the injured liver. Previously we have reported that the 2AAF/AA model produces a small oval cell response.170 In order to determine whether or not the results in Figure 2-3A, B were

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48 credible, we performed immunohistochemistry on liver section obtained from 2AAF/AA exposed rats. As seen in Figure 2-6A, there was little to no staining observed on the hepatocytes. This would appear to confirm our protein result s. However, there were a few clusters of smaller cells in close proximity to the proliferating oval cells that were positive for SDF-1. These smaller cells could be stellate cells or fibroblast cell found in the liver. In contrast to the 2-AAF/PHx and 2AAF/CCl4 models, where the oval cells stained positive for CXCR4, the 2AAF/AA oval cells were negative for CXCR4 (Fig. 2-6B,C). This may suggest there may be a significant difference between the different types of oval cell proliferation models. I mmunohistochemistry was also performed on liver section obtained from acu te AA exposed rat. Figure 2-6D reveals that, even in areas where high levels of damage are seen with an inflammatory response, there was little evidence of staining observed. Again, this may suggest that it ta kes more that just injury to induce the SDF-1 / CXCR4 pathway. To test if oval cells respond to th e chemotractant ability of SDF-1 has been reported to exert on stem cells, experiments were designed in such a way to show the specificity of the oval cells to migrate to a gradient of higher c oncentration of SDF-1. Figure 2-7 represents the ability of oval cells to migrate to the area where there is a higher concentration of SDF-1. When SDF-1 was placed in the bottom chamber of the culture system, there was an approximately 11fold increase in the number of cells that migrated through the membrane as compared to controls. However, to illustrate that the homing effect was due to motility and not from chemokinesis, SDF-1 was placed in the top chamber or in both chambers (top and botto m) to determine if oval cells would still

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49 migrate through the membrane. As shown in Figure 2-7, there was some movement of oval cells as compared to controls, but the fo ld increase was negligib le in both conditions. When the data was subjected to a Students t test, a p value equaling 0.00964 was obtained for the 4-h time point with a similar p value for the 6-h time point. Disscusion In recent years there has been an in creasing body of evidence supporting the concept that adult stem cells have a far gr eater degree of plasti city than once thought. Bone marrow associated stem cells have b een able to produce e ndothelial, mesenchymal and epithelial cell ty pes found in the body.2,179,180 Neural stem cells have been shown to be capable of differentiating into bloo d cells and then back to brain cells.181 In addition, brain stem cells have been shown to pr oduce an entire mammalian system (mouse).182 These studies were conducted in rodent mode ls, and only suggest that adult stem cells may be exploited to treat dysfunction found in the body. Theise et al. (2000) and Alison et al. (2000) both reported74,75 that human adult bone marrow stem cells could differentiate into mature hepatocytes, ther eby providing a link from animal studies to human studies, and proof of concept, which may lead to clinical applications in the near future. The next critical step is to utili ze the rodent liver to dissect the mechanisms regulating oval cell activati on and/or the bone marrow to liver migration process. HSCs and progenitor cells can be found th roughout the entire body, mainly within the bone marrow of an adult, but they are also present in a number of different organs. For instance a lethally irradiated animal can be rescued and have its bone marrow reconstituted through liver transplant.183 Stem cells and progenito rs traffic to different organs during embryonic and fetal development and can move from organ to organ

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50 during adult life, especially during times of stressand in jury-induced states such as during infection.166,167 There are over 50 different chemokines, most of which have suppressive functions in HSC proliferation.166 Such redundancy is a phenomenon found throughout nature and in many biological syst ems, but the chemokine system appears more prone to have back-ups to back-ups. Perhaps this redundancy is the means by which HSC proliferation is kept in balance in orga ns in which proliferat ion is not needed or warranted during steady-state functions such as normal liver regeneration. The movement or homing of cells to orga ns also needs integrin-mediated adhesion to the ECM components like fibronectin. This adhesion can be activated by certain cytokines such as stem cell factor (SCF).166 It is also reported that SDF-1 is constitutively expressed in most major solid organs found in the body (i.e. brain, li ver, pancreas, lung, heart, kidney, and spleen) as well as the bone marrow and the surrounding cells of the germinal center.166 Also, there is only one known receptor for SDF-1 a which is CXCR4. It also was found that CD-34cells had a higher expression of CXCR4 (77%) than CD34+ population, which were only (61%),184 possibly indicating that CD-34cells are more primitive than CD-34+ cel ls. With the results from LaGa sse et al. (2000), indicating that a population of bone marrow stem cells with a Sca-1+/Thy-1lo/kit+/Lin-/CD-34phenotype are the cell type w ithin the bone marrow capable of differentiating into hepatocytes.4 In addition, there are recent repor ts showing that mutlipoten adult progenitor cell (MAPC) of mesenchymal lineage could trans-differentiate into hepatocytes both in vivo and in vitro .76,78 To speculate and place into context a number of different reported events that occur in the liver during the oval cellaided rege neration process, we suggest the following

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51 scenario. SDF-1 is produced in the liver, which then act ivates oval cells to proliferate. As the progenitor cells enter the liver lobule they come in contact w ith adhesion molecules like fibronectin. It has been reported that ther e is an increase in soluble fibronectin, an ECM molecule that would f acilitate their engraftment.185 The expansion in the number of stellate cells that occurs in th e periportal regions of the liver186 would next result in an increased production of the growth factors such as hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and transforming growth factoralpha (TGF a ).187,188 At the same time HGF and TGF a are being up regulated, transformi ng growth factorbeta (TGFb 1) is also being up-regulated by the expanding Kupffer and stellate cell population.189,190 In order for stem cells to differentiate down the hepatic lineage, the differentiation of HSC down the hematopoietic lineage would have to be blocked. TGFb 1 and tumor necrosis factoralpha (TNF a ) have been shown to suppress the differentiation of progenitor HSCs into megakaryocytes and down the myeloid lineage.191,192 In addition; HGF would act as strong promoter of differentiation toward the hepatic lineage.175 Both oval cells and HSCs express the HGF receptor c-Met.193 In addition, stores of HGF and epid ermal growth factor (EGF) in the periportal region of the liver194 can be released from the ECM by an up regulation of uPA.100 Thus, the necessary contributors to the processes of homing, engrafting and differentiation would be in the right place at th e right time to signal to the oval cell of its final fate in the liver. Thes e factors could be the signals, plus, as of yet undetermined signals, which oval cells need to begin to di fferentiate down the he patic lineage. In a recent study, Muller et al. (2001) showed that the CXCR4 is highly expressed in human breast cancer cells and metastases. In addition, they reported that SDF-1 a exhibited peak levels of expression in organs representi ng the first destination of breast cancer

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52 metastasis.195 Their study showed that chemokines a nd their receptors ha ve a critical role in the movement of breast cancer metastasis. The SDF1/CXCR4 interaction is fairly unique, meaning that CXCR4 is the only known receptor for SDF-1 and because of its specificity and its location throughout the body it makes this proteinreceptor in teraction a good candidate for homing bone marrow derived cells to various sites of injury. This interaction could also be viewed as a signal to initiate the oval ce ll compartment in certain forms of liver regeneration. Our data begins to shed light on a possible m echanism for oval cell activation and a possible signal, which could aid in the recruitment of bone marrow derived stem cells to the liver as a second wave of cells enter the injured organ. This may someday lead to a better understanding of the hepatic and hematopoie tic interaction in ova l cell activation and proliferation. This may in turn lead to bette r clinical relevance in treating patients through stem cell therapies, but further experiments will need to be performed.

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53 Figure 2-1. Western blot analysis on whole cell lysate obtained from ma le Fisher 344 rats treated with CCl4 A) and 2AAF/CCl4 B), with 5mg of protein loaded in each well. Note there is expression of SDF-1 in the 2AAF/CCl4 model in B, whereas there is no expression in the acu te model. Actin bands are shown to provide a reference to loading consis tency. Protein was pooled from n= 3 samples per time point. Figure 2-2. Western blot anal ysis for SDF-1a on crude inso luble extracts from both CCl4 A) and oval cell B) aided model. 5 mg of protein loaded in each well. Notice that, even in the enriched fraction of membrane, there appears to be no expression of SDF-1 in the CCl4 model. As seen in the whole cell lysate fraction B), the expression of SDF-1 is highly expressed in the oval cell aided model of regeneration. Actin bands are shown to show loading consistency. Protein was pooled from n= 3 samples per time point.

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54 Figure 2-3.. Western blot analys is for SDF-1 in the crude in soluble extracts from acute AA A), 2-AAF/AA B), and 2AAF /PHx C) treated male Fisher 344 rats. 10 mg of protein was loaded in each well fo r A and B; only 5 mg of protein was loaded for C. In both the acute AA model and the 2AAF/AA model, there appears to be no expression of SDF-1, even though samples were overloaded as seen by actin expression. To confirm the results seen in the 2AAF/CCl4 model, we tested the insoluble frac tion from rat livers exposed to the 2AAF/PHx protocol. And again we ob served an up-regulation of SDF-1. Protein was pooled from n =3 samples per time point.

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55 Figure 2 4. Immunohistochemistry for SDF-1 on fro zen rat liver sections obtained from male Fisher 344 rat. A) Normal (contr ol) liver for representation of normal levels of SDF-1 expression. B) From normal rat liver without antibody to serve as the negative control. C), D) Oval cellaided regeneration model of 2AAF/CCl4, day 9, and 2AAF/PHx, day 9, respectively. E) 2AAF/CCl4 model day 9 post-injury. F) 2AAF/PHx day 9 post-injury. CV, central vein; arrows point to a few represen tative individual hepatocytes.

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56 Figure 2 5. Immunohistochemistry for CXCR4 on frozen rat liver sections obtained from male Fisher 344 rat. A) Normal liver showing no CXCR4 expression. B) From normal rat liver without antibody to serve as the negative control. C, D) Oval cellaided regeneration models of 2AAF/CCl4, day 11, and 2 AAF/PHx, day 13, respectively. E,G) Cyto spin of Thy-11FITC-labeled cells (stained green), sorted from animals on the 2AAF/CCl4 protocol, stained for CXCR4Texas Red (E-red stain). AC were stained using vector blue detection and counter-stained with nu clear fast-red. D was visualized using DAB-peroxidase (brown) and counter-sta ined using Mayors hematoxylin. The nuclei for EG were counter-stained us ing DAPI (blue staining). PT, portal triad; H, representative he patocytes; arrows point to representative oval cells that are positive cells.

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57 Figure 2 6. Immunohistochemistry for SDF-1 a nd CXCR4 on liver sections obtained from rats exposed to 2AAF/AA day 9 postinjury. A) There is very little to no staining for SDF-1. The smaller positive ce lls could be stellate cells, which are known to be in close proximity to pro liferating oval cells. B,C) No staining for CXCR4 on the oval cells. D) Staini ng for CXCR4 on tissue obtained from rat liver exposed to AA 24-h time point. The area inside the dashed line represents the damage brought on from AA exposure, and even though there is a considerable amount of inflammation, no staining is observed. All photomicrographs were taken using an Olympus BX51 microscope. A and B have an original magnification of 40X. C was taken under 100X oil immersion, and D magnification was 20X. Green arrows in A indicate hepatocytes, while black arrows in A a nd B point to small clusters of positive cells, SDF-1, and CXCR4, respectively. Red arrows in B and C point to representative individual oval cells. HV, hepatic vein; BD, bile duct; CV, central vein; PT, portal triad.

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58 Figure 2 7. Comparison of the moto genetic effects of SDF-1 on primary cultures of liver oval cells plated at high density. SDF-1 was added to the cultures 2 h postplating, either in the bottom chamber, the top chamber, or in both chambers. Time points of 4 and 6 h were examin ed for cell migration through the transmembrane. When SDF-1 was only added to the bottom chamber, there was an approximately 11-fold increase of cells moving to the side with the higher concentration of the protein as compar ed to control cultures. When SDF-1 was added to either the top chamber or to bot h chambers, the fold increase of cells migrating was minimally increased and di d not reach the levels seen when the protein was only in the bottom chambe r. Values are given as mean of n = 3.

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59 CHAPTER 3 KNOCKDOWN OF SDF-1 COMPRO MISES OVAL CELL ACTIVATION Introduction In general the liver relies on two types of responses to re generate after major tissue loss: (1) proliferation of existing hepatocytes and (2) to a lesser ex tent, the activation of stem/progenitor cell compartment. Mature he patocytes have a remarkable replication capability and are very efficient in restoring hepatic parenchyma after liver injury caused by a variety of methods (i.e. partial hepato ectomy (PH), hepatic toxins, hepatotrophic virus infection and so on); and thus are enlisted as the first line of regeneration. However, in some situations where hepatocyte repl ication is suppressed, such as following treatment with 2-acetylaminofluorene (2-AAF), oval cells will proliferate and differentiate to replenish the hepatic mass. Oval cells in this case have been regarded as facultative liver stem cells capable of differe ntiating into both hepato cytes and bile duct epithelial cells.10, 11 The question of the origin of oval cells remains open. It has been suggested that oval cells or their precursors re side within or adjacent to the canal of Hering, and expand into the liver parenchyma after activation.67 Other evidence demonstrates that bone marrow stem cells might be an alternat ive source of the liv er progenitor cells,2-4migrating to and engrafting in the liver, giving rise to oval cells then hepatocytes. Regardless of the origin, oval cells or thei r precursors must depend on proper signal(s) to mediate activation, migration and differentiation. The molecular signaling microenvironment at the site of liver injury consists of a co mplex array of growth factors, cytokines,

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60 chemokines, extracellular matrix (ECM) as we ll as cell-cell contacts. Factors that have been associated with the oval cell response include, but are not limited to, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF); 91-93,188 transforming growth factor(TGF);89,96 acidic fibroblast growth factor (aFGF); 89,196 tumor necrosis factor (TNF); 79,80 leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF); 84 stem cell factor (SCF); 70,101 -interferon (INF) 197 and plasminogen activator/plasmin system 100, but the precise roles of these proteins are unclear. SDF-1 is a member of CXC chemokines first identified from bone marrow stromal cells, and later found in most major solid or gans in the body including liver. One of the functions of SDF-1 is to direct cell mi gration along a SDF-1 gradient, from low concentration to high concentr ation. This is triggered by binding of SDF-1 to the Gprotein coupled receptor CXCR4 on the surf ace of responding cells. The SDF-1/CXCR4 axis plays an essential role in hematopoies is presumably through directing hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) to their final niches.198,199 Besides, SDF-1/CXCR4 interaction may have a more general role during embryoge nesis and postnatal tissue regeneration involving various tissue-committed stem cells. For example, some neural precursors,200 endothelial progenitors201 and primordial germ cells202 also express functional CXCR4 on their surfaces and the importanc e of SDF-1/CXCR4 interacti on on these cells have been illustrated by the defects of brain,111 large vessel164 and germ cells202 found in the embryos of CXCR4 -/mice. Previous findings from this laboratory have reported that SDF-1 was up-regulated during oval cell activation but not during normal liver regeneration. In the 2-acet ylaminofluorene/partial hepatectomy (2AAF/PHx) oval cell activation model, SDF-1 was expressed by hepatocytes,102 while its receptor CXCR4 was expressed on the oval cell surface. 102,103 In vitro migration assays demonstrated that oval

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61 cells migrate to a gradient of higher SDF-1 concentration.102 These observations bring up the possibility that the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis may play a role in oval cell activation, although the significance of this interacti on on the oval cell response is yet to be determined. In the present study, RNA interference was employed to knock down the SDF-1 signal in the livers of 2AAF/PHx treated rats, providing a more clear view of the role of the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis during oval cell activation. The oval cell response was assessed by histology, as well as Northern and Wester n analyses. These results indicate that the oval cell response was compromised when SDF1 expression was suppressed within the regenerating liver, suggesting an important role of SDF1 in oval cell activation. Materials and Methods Animal Experiments Two-month old Female F-344 rats were used for all experiments. A 2AAF pallet (70mg, released over a period of 28 days) was implanted into the peritoneal cavity. 70% partial hepatoecomy was performed 7 days after 2AAF implantation, and 6 1010pfu of recombinant adenovirus was infused thr ough tail vein immediately following PHx. Animals were sacrificed at day 9 after PHx a nd liver tissues collected for further studies. All animal studies were conducted according to the NIH guidelines for animal use and institutionally appr oved protocols. Recombinant Adenovirus SiRNA Expression Cassette. Invert repeat DNA fragme nts based on rat SDF-1 coding sequence was inserted at the +1 posit ion of mouse U6 promoter. The transcribed RNA is therefore predicted to form a small ha irpin, which will be fu rther processed into

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62 siRNA within the target cell. Control vector was constructed in a similar way except that a scrambled sequence was used. Mouse U6 promoter (-315 to +1) was amplified from mouse genomic DNA by PCR using primer pairs: 5-ACT AGT GAT CCG ACG CCG CCA TCT CTA GGC-3 and 5-GGG CCC AAA CAA GGC TTT TC T CCA AGG GAT ATT TA-3. Oligonucleotide pairs: 5-TGT GCA TTG ACC CGA AAT TTC AAG AGA ATT TCG GGT CAA TGC ACA CTT TTT GGT AC-3 and 5-CAA AAA GTG TGC ATT GAC CCG AAA TTC TCT TGA AAT TTC GGG TCA AGT CAC A-3 were annealed to form invert repeat DNA template for siR NA against SDF-1 (siSDF). Oligonucleotide pairs for scrambled siRNA (si-scramble) templates are: 5-GCA TAT GTG CGT ACC TAG CAT TCA AGA GAT GCT AGG TAC GC A CAT ATG CCT TTT TTG GTA C3 and 5-CAA AAA AGG CAT ATG TGC GTA CCT AGC ATC TCT TGA ATG CTA GGT ACG CAC ATA TGC-3. Generation of Recombinant Adenovirus. Adeno-X expression system (BD biosciences clontech, CA) was used to make adenoviral vectors containing the siSDF expression cassette and control adenoviral vect or containing the si-scramble cassette. U6 promoter and invert repeat DNA were inserted into pShuttle vector and the expression cassettes were further transferred to BD Adeno-X vector. The adenoviral vectors were then used to transfect AD-293 cells (Str atagene, TX) to produce adenovirus. Recombinant adenoviruses were enriched and purified using ViraBind Adenovitus purification kit (Cell Biolabs Inc. CA). A ll procedures were pe rformed following the manufacturers instructions. The aden ovirus containing the siSDF cassette was designated as Ad-siSDF, and the control virus Ad-scramble.

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63 Immunohistology Immunofluorescent Staining for SDF-1. Formalin-fixed liver tissues were embedded in paraffin and cut into 5 m sections. After depara ffinization and hydration, sections were microwaved for 7 minutes in 0.01 M citrate buffer (P H6.0). The sections were then washed with Tris-buffered salin e (TBS) and incubated with goat polyclonal anti-SDF1 (sc-6193, diluted 1:50, Santa Cr uz Biotechnology) for 1 hour at room temperature. Fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-conjugated an ti-goat IgG (FI-5000, diluted 1:200, Vector Laboratories) was used as the secondary antibody. Immunostaining for OV6. Cryostat sections (5 m) were fixed in acetone (-20oC) for 10 minutes. After serum blocking and avid in/biotin blocking, sections were incubated with mouse anti-OV6 antibody (diluted 1:150, gi ft from Dr. Stewart Sell) for 1 hour at room temperature and later with biotinylat ed anti-mouse IgG (Vector Laboratories) for 30 minutes at room temperatur e. The staining reaction was developed using Vectastain elite ABC kit (PK-6200, Vector Laboratories ) and diaminobenzidine tetrahydrochloride (DAB) substrate (SK-4100, Vector Laboratories). Immunostaining for Ki67. 5 m paraffin sections were microwaved for 7 minutes in 0.01 M citrate buffer (PH6.0) after deparaffi nization and hydration. The sections were then washed with TBS. After normal serum blocking and avidin/biotin blocking, sections were incubated with mouse anti-Ki67 an tibody (diluted 1:100, PharMingen 556003) for 1 hour at room temperature and later with biotinylated anti-mouse IgG (Vector Laboratories) for 30 minutes at room temper ature. The staining reaction was developed using Vectastain elite ABC kit (PK-6200, V ector Laboratories) and diaminobenzidine tetrahydrochloride (DAB) substrat e (SK-4100, Vector Laboratories).

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64 Northern Blotting Total RNA was isolated from liver tissues using RNA-BeeTM reagent (CS-501B, Tel-Test, Inc.) 10g of total RNA were lo aded onto a denaturing 1% formaldehyde agarose gel, electrophoresed in the pres ence of formaldehyde and transferred to Genescreen nylon membrane (NEN Life Scie nce). Hybridization and stripping were performed according to manufacturers in structions. DNA probes for AFP, SDF-1 and Glyseraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogena se (GAPDH) were labeled with ( -32P) dCTP using Megaprime DNA labeling system (A mersham Bioscienses) and following manufacturers instructions. Western Blotting Liver lysates were separated by SDS-PAGE and transferred to Immun-Blot PVDF membrane (Bio-Rad) using standard technique. For -fetoprotein (AFP) detection, goat polyclonal anti-AFP IgG (sc-8108, Santa Cruz Biotechnology) and horseredish peroxidase (HRP) conjugated anti-goat IgG (sc-2352, Santa Cruz Biotechnology) was used as primary and secondary antibody, respectively. ECL plus western blotting detection kit (RPN 2132, Amersham Bioscien ces) was used for development of the membrane. Membranes were stripped and blocke d before detection of different proteins. For SDF-1 detection, goat polyclonal anti -SDF1 (sc-6193, Santa Cruz Biotechnology) was used as primary antibody and HRP-conj ugated anti-goat IgG (sc-2352, Santa Cruz Biotechnology) as secondary antibody. For -actin detection, mouse anti-actin IgG (ab6276, Abcam) was used as primary anti body and HRP-conjugated anti-mouse IgG (Amersham Life Scienc enses) as secondary.

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65 TUNEL Analysis Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (T dT)-mediated dUTP nick-end-labeling (TUNEL) assay was performed on paraffin-embe dded liver sections to detect apoptotic cells using the ApoAlertTM DNA fragmentation assay ki t (Cat. 630107, BD Biosciences Clontech), and following ma nufacturers instruction. Results SDF-1 Expression in Rat Liver after 2AAF/PHx SDF-1 expression was not detected by immunostaining on quiescent liver cells before oval cell induction (Figure 3 1A). An increasing number of hepatocytes were decorated with SDF-1antibody over time as the oval cell reaction progressed. By day 7 and day 9 after 2AAF/PHx, most of the hepa tocytes located within pericentral region were positive for SDF-1, while most of the cel ls located within portal regions were SDF1 negative. (Figure 3 1B and C) Suppression of SDF-1 Expression by SiSD F in the Livers of 2AAF/PHx Rats Recombinant adenovirus has been used for hepatic gene transfer to express therapeutic gene products in mice, rats, rabbits, and dogs. From these studies, intravenously administered adenovirus has prove n to be highly efficient in transducing non-dividing hepatocytes.203 In the present study, adenovi rus was used to deliver the siRNA expression cassette into rat liver af ter 2AAF/PHx. 9 days after virus infusion, SDF-1 expressions in Ad-siSDF transduced livers were remarkably knocked down in more than 90% of the hepatocytes (Figure 3 2E), while the Ad-scramble treatment did not inhibit up-regulation of SDF-1. (Figure 3 2C) Northern blot and Western blot analyses of Ad-siSDF treated livers furthe r confirmed decreased levels of SDF-1 mRNA

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66 and protein. (Figure 3 4, lane 3) It is unlikely that suppression of SDF-1 production was due to non-specific inhibition of protein synthesis by foreign RNA or adenovirus infection because similar leve ls of SDF-1 mRNA and protein were seen between Adscramble treated 2AAF/PHx liver and 2AAF/PHx liver (Figure 3 4, lane1 and lane 2). Inhibition of Oval Cell Respon se by Knocking Down SDF-1 Day 9 after 2AAF/PHx and Ad-scramble infu sion, numerous oval cells appeared at the portal regions (Figure 3 2D). Oval cells featured an ovoid-shaped nucleus and high nucleus/cytoplasm ratio when stained w ith hematoxylin and eosin. A remarkable decrease in oval cell proliferation was seen in the liver of 2AAF/PHx rats treated with Ad-siSDF (Figure 3 2F). Consistent with the mo rphologic findings, the number of OV6+ oval cells was dramatically decreased in Ad-siSDF treated 2AAF/PHx rats as compared to that of Ad-scramble treated rats (Figure 3 3C, 3 3D versus Figure 3 3A, 3 3B). Northern blot and Western blot analyses on -fetoprotein (AFP) showed that this oval cell marker protein was dramatically reduc ed at both the RNA and protein levels in the livers of Ad-siSDF treat ed 2AAF/PHx rat (Figure 3 4), which further confirmed that the oval cell activation was compromised in these animals. Decrease of Oval Cell Number Was No t Related to Oval Cell Apoptosis Since SDF-1 has been shown, in some studies, to be capable of protecting CD34+ progenitor cells from apoptosis, 141 it was considered that the decreased number of oval cells seen in Ad-siSDF treated animal was the result of apoptosis of those cells. To address this issue, TUNEL stai ning of the liver sections was used to assess apoptosis in the livers of all rats used in these studies. Apoptotic cells were rarely detected in all three

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67 groups of rats (Figure 3 5). Hence, suppression of SD F-1 did not increase oval cell apoptosis evidently. The decrea se in oval cell numbers seen in Ad-siSDF treated animal results likely from suppressed proliferation of oval cells. Consistent with this notion, Ki67 staining revealed that th e number of cells entering active cell cycle was far lower in Ad-siSDF treat ed rat than in contro l rat in day 13 after the treatment. (Figure 3 6) The cells proliferating around day 13 included oval cells and their progenies---new hepatocytes and bile duct cells. This result indicates that knockdown of SDF-1 expression in the damaged liv er inhibits the pro liferation of hepatic cells, and thus hinders oval cell-aided liver regeneration. Discussion A role for the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis in stem cell-aided liver regeneration has been suggested by several studies, all of whic h demonstrated a correlation between SDF-1 expression and stem cell accumulation in the liver. 102-104 In the present study, the wellcharacterized 2AAF/PHx model was used to determine the role of SDF-1 in oval cell activation. In 2AAF/PHx mode l, oval cell number increases markedly by day 5 following PHx and peaks at approximately day 9.170 Consistent with the pr evious findings, SDF-1 was expressed mostly in the pericentral re gion of the liver during oval cell activation (Figure 1). These findings are in co ntradiction with those of Mavier et al (2004), who demonstrated in a similar model that SDF1 was strongly expressed by oval cells while only rarely detected in hepatocytes.103 The discrepancy might stem from the use of different antibodies. According to our pr esent findings, production of SDF-1 was polarized across the liver lobule with high levels of expression near the central vein and virtually no expression around the portal tria d. SDF-1 is known to bind heparin sulfate

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68 associated proteoglycan on cell membrane and extracellular matrix (ECM).204 SDF-1 is critical for cell trafficking in a number of important biological events including hematopoietic stem cell homing, 198, 199 cancer metastasis205 and primordial germ cell migration.202, 206 During oval cell reaction in 2AAF/PHx rat model, oval cells proliferate and radiate from the periportal region (possi ble from canal of Hering). Since oval cells express CXCR4 on their surface, it is possibl e that oval cells arising from periportal region respond to the SDF-1 gradient acro ss the liver lobule and migrate into the parenchyma, where the microenvironment is favorable for their differentiation into hepatocytes. The interaction of SDF-1 with CXCR4 also increases secretion of matrix metalloproteinase (MMPs) by target cells. Th ese proteolytic enzymes play an important role in stem cell migration thr ough vascular basement membranes.137At early stages of oval cell activation; oval cell ductules ar e surrounded by basement membrane, which disappears from the oval cell foci when th ey begin to differentiate into small hepatocytes.207 An In vitro study showed that hepatic stem cells express an hepatocyte phenotype only when losing touch with basement membrane matrix, 208 suggesting that degradation of basement membrane may be critical for oval cells to differentiate down hepatocytic direction. A SDF1 signal elicited in oval ce ll activation might stimulate MMPs secretion from oval cells or other nonparenchymal cells (Kupffer cells, stellate cells et al) proximal to the oval cell foci. The degradation of the surrounding basement membranes by these MMPs may facilitate oval cell migration into li ver lobules and allow them to differentiate into small hepatocyte s. AFP is a widely used oval cell marker indicative of hepatocytic commitment. In this study, AFP expression wa s lost in the liver

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69 when SDF-1 signal was knocked down duri ng oval cell activatio n; supporting our hypothesis that SDF-1 may function to direct oval cell movement into the hepatic parenchyma and differentiation into he patocyte in 2AAF/PHx rat model. The effect of SDF-1 on cell survival/anti-apoptosis rema ins controversial. Recent studies found that activation of the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis prevents certain hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells or cell lines from apoptosis in vitro 139-141 while others did not.136, 145 Apoptosis has been reported in later stag es of oval cell-aided liver regeneration. Yano et al (2004) observed apoptos is of hepatocytes surrounding oval cells at day 9 post 2AAF/PHx.209 In another study, oval cell apoptosis was seen to peak at day 10 after 2AAF/PHx, concurrent with the secretion of TGF by hepatic stellate ce lls. It is believed that apoptosis of these cells represents a mechanism for modulating hepatic cell number and remodeling of liver parenchyma in the final stages of ov al cell-aided liver regeneration.189 In our oval cell activation model, a poptosis was not evident at day 9 after 2AAF/PHx under either SDF-1 suppression or up -regulation. However, since survival of oval cells was not compromised by knocking down of SDF-1, the decrease in the number of oval cells observed in treate d animals most likely reflect a decrease in proliferation of oval cells, suggesting a possi ble role of SDF-1 in oval cell proliferation. SDF-1 was found to promote the proliferation of astrocytes210 and some tumor cell lines such as glioblastoma cells211 and ovarian cancer cells212. This effect has been shown to correlate with activation of ERK1/2 and PI3K-AKT pathways in the target cells.210, 212 However, other in vitro studies have showed that SDF-1 induced activation of these pathways did not affect proliferation/surv ival of several hema topoietic cell lines.136 This suggests that activation of othe r signaling pathways is requi red in the target cells to

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70 enhance their proliferat ion or survival. Moreover, there is evidence showing that SDF-1 acts synergistically with ot her cytokines such as gr anulocyte-macrophage colonystimulating factor (GM-CSF), stem cell factor (SCF) and thrombopoietin (TPO) enhancing survival of CD34+ progenitor cells. 213 SDF-1/CXCR4 interaction also induces epidermal growth factor (E GF) receptor phosphorylation to enhance proliferation of ovarian cancer cells.212 All these data suppor t the notion that cr osstalk between SDF1/CXCR4 axis and other cytokine signaling path ways play an important role in regulating stem cell proliferation or survival. As shown by the present study, down-regulation of SDF-1 expression in the liver causes impaired oval cell responce, implying an important role of SDF-1 in promoti ng oval cell proliferation. Oval cell-aided liver regeneration is re gulated by an array of cytokines and chemokines such as HGF, TGF aFGF, TNF LIF, SCF and INFet al.70,79,80,84,89,9193,96,101,196,197 SDF-1/CXCR4 interaction may represen t an essential component of this complex controlling network. Besides its dir ect action on oval cells it is possible that SDF-1 also has an effect on other hepatic cel ls. Further studies ai med to elucidate the function of SDF-1 on various hepatic cells a nd to dissect the connections between SDF-1 and other cytokine signaling pathways in the context of oval cell-ai ded liver regeneration will be critical for a better understandi ng of pathophysiology of liver regeneration.

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71 Figure 3 1. Immunofluorescent staini ng of SDF-1 in normal rat liver and 2AAF/PHx rat liver. A) Normal liver; B) 2AAF/PHx ra t, day 7; C) 2AAF/PHx rat, day 9. Arrows point to SDF-1 positive hepatocytes. SDF-1 (green) expression can be seen in most of the hepatocytes within the pericentral region on the liver of 2AAF/PHx rat. In this model, most cells within portal triads are SDF-1 negative (B and C). SDF-1 expression is not detected in normal liver (A). (PT: portal triad; CV: central vein. Original magnification: 20X).

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72 Figure 3 2. Ad-siSDF knocks down SDF-1 expression in 2AAF/PHx rat livers and inhibits the oval cell reaction in thes e animals. A)Normal rat liver; B) 2AAF/PHx, day 9, primary antibody omitte d (negative control); C-D) liver sections from 2AAF/PHx rat treated with Ad-scram ble, day 9; E-F) Liver sections from 2AAF/PHx rat treated with Ad-siSDF, day 9. A-C, E) immunofluorescence of SDF-1 (green) counter-stained with DAPI (blue). SDF-1 was knocked down in Ad-siSDF treat ed animal liver (compare E to C). D) and F) are H&E staining of liver sections showing suppressed oval cell response in Ad-siSDF treated animals F) compared to control animal D). Arrows point to oval cells. (Original magnification: 20X)

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73 Figure 3 3. OV6 immunostaining of rat liver sect ions. A) 2AAF/PHx rat treated with Ad-scramble, day 9; B) High magnificat ion of the bracketed area in A); C) 2AAF/PHx rat treated with Ad-siSDF day 9; D) High magnification of bracketed area in C). Arrows point to oval cells. Less OV6+ (brown) oval cells are seen in Ad-siSDF treated anim als C-D) than those seen in control animals A-B). (Original magnification: 10X for A and C; 40X for B and D)

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74 Figure 3-4. Knockdown of SDF-1 and the expre ssion of AFP. A) Northern blot analysis of AFP and SDF-1 mRNA in rat livers; B) Western blot analysis of AFP SDF1 protein expression in rat livers. In both A) and B) samples in lane 1 are from livers of 2AAF/PHx rats; lane 2 2AAF/PHx/Ad-scramble treated rats and lane 3 2AAF/PHx/Ad-siSDF treated rats. 10 g of pooled total RNA samples or 5 g of pooled protein samples from same group of animals (n=3 in each group) was loaded to each lane. Relative quantity of each band is determined by normalizing its total density to that of loading control in the same lane, and is plotted in accompanying graph. Ad-siSDF-induced RNA interferences result in considerable decrease in SDF-1 expression in both mRNA and protein level, accompanied by an almost absent of AFP expression from these rat livers (lane 3). Ad-scr amble infusions do not cause significant decrease in SDF-1 and AFP expression in control animals (lane 2 compared with lane 1). 0 1 2 123Relative quantit y AFP SDF-12AAF/PHx +Ad-scramble 2AAF/PHx2AAF/PHx +Ad-siSDF AFP SDF-1 GAPDH 123A 0 1 2 123Relative quantit y AFP SDF-12AAF/PHx +Ad-scramble 2AAF/PHx2AAF/PHx +Ad-siSDF 0 1 2 123Relative quantit y AFP SDF-12AAF/PHx +Ad-scramble 2AAF/PHx2AAF/PHx +Ad-siSDF AFP SDF-1 GAPDH 123A AFP SDF-1 GAPDH 123A 0 0.5 1 123Relative quantit y AFP SDF-12AAF/PHx2AAF/PHx +Ad-scramble 2AAF/PHx +Ad-siSDFAFP SDF-1 Actin 12 3 B 0 0.5 1 123Relative quantit y AFP SDF-12AAF/PHx2AAF/PHx +Ad-scramble 2AAF/PHx +Ad-siSDF 0 0.5 1 123Relative quantit y AFP SDF-12AAF/PHx2AAF/PHx +Ad-scramble 2AAF/PHx +Ad-siSDFAFP SDF-1 Actin 12 3 BAFP SDF-1 Actin 12 3 B

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75 Figure 3 5. No significant apoptos is detected by TUNEL staining in 2AAF/PHx rat livers. A) 2AAF/PHx rat, day 9; B) 2AAF/PHx/Ad-scramble treated rat, day 9; C) 2AAF/PHx/Ad-siSDF treated rat, day 9. Arrows point to apoptotic cells (green), which are sporadic on the liver sections from all animals. The extents of apoptosis in the liver are similar betw een all three groups at this time point. (Original magnification: 10X)

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76 Figure 3 6. Knockdown of SDF-1 hindered hepatic cell proliferation. A) 2AAF/PHx/Ad-scramble treated rat, da y 13; B) 2AAF/PHx/Ad-siSDF treated rat, day 13. Arrows point to prolifera ting oval cells and arrowheads point to proliferating hepatocytes. (Original magnification: 20X) C) Comparison of the number of proliferating cells in differe nt group of animals. Ki67 positive cells (brown nucleus) were counted as pr oliferating cells from 25 randomly selected fields in sections of each group. The cells residing within sinusoids were intentionally ignored since they were not related to oval cells. The number of proliferating cells per field (under 20X ma gnification) was 465.8.7 in control rat and 157.5.2 in Ad-siSDF treated rat. (MeanSD, students t test, P<0.01)

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77 CHAPTER 4 EFFECTS OF SDF-1 OVEREXPRESSION DURING OVAL CELL-AIDED LIVER REGENERATION Introduction It has been documented that hepatocytes can be generated from hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs).2,3,4 This has raised the hopes that HSCs could in the future be used for regeneration and reconstitution of damaged liver, or serve as carriers of therapeutic gene for gene therapy. In order for HSCs residing in bone marro w to become hepatocytes in the liver, these cells must first move out to the circula tion; when they reach the liver, they must engraft into the liver and eventually differe ntiate into hepatocytes. The mechanisms governing each steps of this pr ocess are not fully understood. The studies on bone marrow derived hepatocy tes have revealed that generation of hepatocytes from HSCs occurs in a fairly lo w frequency. The contribution of HSCs to the hepatocytes in the regenerating liver vary from 0.8%~8%, depending on the species, the injury model, the time after liver damage, and the techniques used to identify bone marrow derived hepatocytes.3,214,215 To significantly in crease the bone marrow contribution to the liver parenchyma, the signal s have to be elucidated that control the mobilization of HSCs from bone marrow and ho ming of these cells to injured liver; then the ways to modify those signals need to be found to improve the efficiency of these processes.

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78 Studies on murine and human subjects have shown that the SDF-1/CXCR4 interaction is involved in re gulating mobilization of HSCs and has been implicated in migration of stem cells during organogenesi s and adult tissue repa iring, including homing of HSCs to bone marrow.111,198-202 Our research elaborated in the previous chapters also suggested that the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis was a critical player in stem cell-aided liver regeneration. It is of great interest to see whether augmentation of SDF-1 in the liver will lead to enhancement of oval cell activation, or in crease of contribution of bone marrow stem cell to the hepatocytes. To this end, bone marrow tran splantations were performed from DPPVI+ male rats to lethally irradiated DPPIVfemale rats. One month after bone marrow transplantation, the DPPIVrats were put into 2AAF/PHx treatment and received one dose of injection of recombine ade novirus carrying SDF-1 expression cassette immediately after PHx. Animal tissue were co llected and examined at day 9 and day 28 after PHx and virus infusion. Materials and Methods Recombinant Adenovirus SDF-1 Overexpression Cassette. SDF-1 cDNA coding region was PCRamplified from mouse liver cDNA and insert ed downstream of HBV promoter (a kind gift from Dr. chen liu, University of Florid a). The primer set used is 5-GTC CAC CTC GGT GTC CTC TT-3 and 5-CCA CGG ATG TCA GCC TTC CT-3. Generation of Adenovirus. Adeno-X expression system (BD biosciences clontech, CA) is used to make ad enoviral vectors containing SDF-1 expression cassette. The adenoviral vectors are then used to transfect AD-293 cells (Stratagene, TX) to produce adenovirus. All procedures are perf ormed following manufacturers manual. The

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79 adenovirus containing SDF-1 overexpression cas sette is designated Ad-SDF-GFP and the control virus Ad-GFP. Bone Marrow Transplantation Dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPPIV) nega tive female F-344 rats were used as recipients. These rats were subjected to a lethal dose of irradiation of 900 rads (450 radsX2, with 3 hours interval) before rece iving bone marrow cell infusion. Normal male F-344 rats were used as bone marrow donors. B one marrow cells were isolated from the femurs and the tibias of the donor rats. Br iefly, donor rats were killed by Nembutal overdose (100mg/kg) and disinfected by imme rsion in 70% ethanol; after the bones were removed and cleaned of soft tissue, bone marrow was exposed by cutting the end of the bone and bone marrow cells were expelled by inserting a needle and forcing Iscov medium through the bone shaft. Bone marro w cells were then passed through a nylon mesh to remove any bone pieces. Approximately 60X106 male bone marrow cells were infused to each recipient via tail vein. Ch imera was detected by PCR screening for Ychromosome 30 days after transplantation. Es tablished chimeras were used for oval cell induction. DPPIV Staining 5m frozen sections were fixed in -20oC Ethanol:glacial aceti c acid (99:1) for 5 minutes, then transferred to 4oC 95% ethanol for 5 minutes. The slides were left at room temperature to air dry. After that, substrat e solution was applied on the slides and the slides were incubated at 37oC for 20 minutes. The slides were washed with TMS buffer twice and incubated with 0.1 M CuSO4 for 2 minutes at room temperature. The slides were then washed and conterstaine d with hematoxylin for 1 minute.

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80 Substrate solution: GPMN (Gly-Pro-4 -Methoxy-Beta-Naphlylamide): 2.5 mg in 150 L 0f Dimethylformamide. Fast blue BB salt: 5mg in 5 ml of TMS buffer. Mix and filter immediately before use. TMS buffe r: 0.1 M Tris maleate, 0.1 M NaCl, PH6.5. Laminin Staining Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded liver tissu es were cut into 5m sections. After deparaffinization and re-hydration, the sect ions were covered with proteinase K (20g/ml, in TE buffer, PH8.0) a nd incubate for 15 minutes at 37oC in a humidified chamber. The sections were allowed to cool to room temperature before washing with TBS. After normal serum blocking and avidin/b iotin blocking, sections were incubated with polyclonal anti-laminin IgG (dilute d 1:100, Dakocytomation Z0097) for 1 hour a room temperature. After wash and bloc king of endogenous peroxidase activity, the sections were incubated with biotinylated anti-rabbit IgG (Vector Laboratories) for 30 minutes at room temperature. The staining r eaction was developed us ing Vectastain elite ABC kit (PK-6200, Vector Laboratories) a nd diaminobenzidine tetrahydrochloride (DAB) substrate (SK-4100, Vector Laboratories). Immunofluorescence of Desmin/Laminin Cryostat sections (5 m) were fixed in acetone (-20oC) for 10 minutes. After washing and normal serum blocking, sections were incubated with mouse anti-desmin antibody (diluted 1:50, Dako 0904) and ra bbit anti-laminin IgG (diluted 1:100, Dakocytomation Z0097) for 1 hour at room temperature. Texas red-conjugated antimouse IgG and Fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-conjugated anti-rabbit IgG (diluted 1:200, Vector Laboratories) was used as secondary antibody.

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81 Immunofluorescence of OV6/Laminin Cryostat sections (5 m) were fixed in acetone (-20oC) for 3 minutes. After washing and normal serum blocking, sections were incubated with mouse anti-OV6 antibody (diluted 1:150, gift from Dr. Stewart Sell) and rabbit anti-laminin IgG (diluted 1:100, Dakocytomation Z0097) for 1 hour at room temperature. Texas red-conjugated antimouse IgG and Fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-conjugated anti-rabbit IgG (diluted 1:200, Vector Laboratories) was used as secondary antibody. Immunofluorescence of OV6/Desmin Cryostat sections (5 m) were fixed in acetone (-20oC) for 3 minutes. After washing and normal serum blocking, sections were incubated with mouse anti-OV6 antibody (diluted 1:150, gift from Dr. Stewart Sell). After washing, the sections were incubated with secondary antibody Texas red-conjuga ted anti-mouse IgG (diluted 1:200, Vector Laboratories) for 1 hour at room temperature. The sections were then microwaved in 0.01 M citrate buffer (PH 6.0) for 10 minutes to deactivate unbounded primary antibody. After wash and normal serum blocking, the sections were incubated with mouse anti-desmin antibody (diluted 1:50, Dako 0904) for 1 hour at room temperature, followed by secondary antibody Fluorescei n isothiocyanate (FITC)-conjugated anti-mouse IgG. ELISA for SDF-1 Quantikine mouse SDF-1/CXCL12 immunoa ssay kit (R&D system, MCX120) was used to determine SDF-1 le vel in rat serum following th e manufacturers instruction. 10l of serum from each animal was diluted in 90 l of calibrator diluent RD6Q (1:10 dilution) and used in the assay.

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82 Results Overexpression of SDF in the Liver Does Not Enhance Oval Cell Activation at Day 9 The serum SDF-1 level was elevated in th e rats after 2AAF/PHx, consistent with the findings of Western bl ot and immunohistochemistry (Figures 2-2 and 3-1, respectively). In the rats receives the in fusion of Ad-SDF-GFP, serum SDF-1 level were higher than that of control ra ts infused with Ad-GFP (Figure 4-1A), as a result of transgene expression. The GFP expression by the hepatocytes further confirmed the expression of transgene with in the liver (Figure 4-1B). Day 9 after PHx and virus infusion, the oval cell activation in both Ad-SDF-GFP treated rats and control rats were comparable to each other, as s een in the H&E stained liver section. (Figure 4 2) DPPIV staining was also perfor med in the liver sections from these animals to detect bone marrow derived hepatocytes. However DPPIV positive hepatocytes were not seen at this time point. Overexpression of SDF in the Liver Promot e ECM Deposition in the Liver at Day 28 after 2AAF/PHx Pathological symptoms were noticed in th e rats that received 2AAF/PHx/ Ad-SDFGFP. Animals were lethargic since day 20 after PHx and Ad-SDF-GFP infusion, and suffered from progressive dehydration a nd body waste with minimal response to supplement of diet vitamin and infusion of isotonic fluid. No similar symptom was noted in control animals treated with 2AAF/PHx/A d-GFP. Animals were sacrificed at Day 28. Gross exam revealed numerous small nodules in the livers of Ad-SDF-GFP infused rats. Other findings include enlarged spleen; extended colon pouch stuffed with grainy undigested food, thin colon wall in the color of dark pink; no blockage were found distal

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83 to the extended pouch. H&E staining on the liver sections from these animals showed cell-rich, fibrotic-like septa be tween portal regions. (Figure 4-3) Most of the cells within the septa can be classified into three categories by their morphology: cells with spindle-shape nucle us, possibly (myo)fibroblasts; cells with ovoid-shape nucleus, possible oval cells; and newly generating hepatocytes. DPPIV staining displayed a minimal nu mber of bone marrow-derived cells incorporated in the livers of both 2AAF/PHx /Ad-SDF-GFP treated ra ts and control rats, with similar frequency (Figure 4-4). Those bone marrow-deri ved cells are not likely hepatocytes because they fail to show the typical DPPIV staining pattern of canaliculi membrane of hepatocytes. Further studies are required to identify these cells. Laminin staining was performed to delineate the fibrotic-like septa. The liver of 2AAF/PHx/Ad-SDF-GFP treated rat exhibited heavier laminin deposit than control liver (Figure 45A-D). However, collagen de posit typically seen in liver fibrosis is not evident in either rat, as show n by trichrom staining (Figure 4-5E-F). Double staining of OV6 and Laminin demonstrat ed that majority of the cells within the septa were OV6 positive and were surrounded by laminin (Figure 4-6A). The desmin signal did not co-loca lized with OV6 signal, and desmin expressing cells were much lower in number than OV6+ cells (Figure 4-6B). Furthermore, although desmin positive cells were in close proximity to the laminin, they were not circled in laminin, but rather resided adjacent to hepatocytes (Figure 4-6C). Discussions In our previous studies, SDF-1 has been shown to upregulated in rat liver; and when SDF-1 expression is suppressed, oval cell activation is inhibited. These findings

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84 suggest that SDF-1 is an important molecule in stem cell-aided liver regeneration. Day 9 after infusion of Ad-SDF-GFP into the 2AAF /PHx rats, SDF-1 was overexpressed in the liver, adding more to the already upregul ated endogenous level. However, oval cell activation in these animals wa s not enhanced accordingly, neit her was the engraftment of bone marrow stem cells at this time point. The reason is probably that the endogenous upregulation of SDF-1 after 2AAF/PHx itsel f is significant enough to reach its maximal potency in stimulating oval cell activation. As a consequence, the overexpression of exogenous SDF-1 would not show significant add-on effect. The overexpression of SDF-1, however, might have a broader set of effects on the functions of multiple cell types during liver regeneration, as suggested by the finding that the SDF-1 overexpressing livers develope d heavy laminin deposition between portal triads 28 days after 2AAF/PHx. The mechan ism for the dysregula tion of extracellualr matrix is unclear in these animals. Based on the cellular composition within the fibroticlike septa, a working model integrating th e function of multiple cell types must be considered. Chronic liver damages tend to induce th e accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins in the liver, a process called liver fibrosis. The ex cessive ECM proteins are produced by the activated myofibroblasts, which could be of multiple origins within the liver. In portal-portal fibr osis, like the ones we see in this study, the myofibroblasts that contribute most to the ECM are activated portal fibroblasts.216,217 hepatic stellate cells were later be recruited to the in terface between the fibrous septa and the parenchyma and be activated to myofibroblasts.217,218

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85 Whether SDF-1 plays a role in activating fi broblast or hepatic stellate cells is unknown. If yes, overexpression of SDF-1 could di rectly promote liver fibrosis in the hosts. It has been known that the activation of fibroblasts and hepati c stellate cells is controlled by a complex array of cytokines secreted by inflammatory cells such as Kupffer cells, nature killer cells and lym phocytes, in responding to liver injury.219 The overexpression of SDF-1 might incr ease the recruitment of infl ammatory cells to the site of liver damage. As a consequence, the producti on of pro-fibrosis factors might increase, leading to excessive ECM deposition by activat ed fibroblasts and he patic stellate cells. The ECM proteins found to excessively depos it in the fibrotic liver include three large families of proteinsglycoproteins su ch as fibronectin, laminin, hyaluronic acid et al ; proteoglycans and collagens.220 But the most characterized f eature of liver fibrosis is increased deposition of type I and type III collagen.220 However, in our model of SDF-1 overexpressing liver, laminin was the dominant ECM deposit, instead of collagens, as evidenced by comparing the laminin staini ng to trichrome staining results. (Figure 4 5) The meaning of this discrepancy and how it relates to overexpr ession of SDF-1 is unclear. Another interesting finding was that a large number of OV6 + cells were seen within the laminin-rich septa. The identity of these OV6+ cells is ambiguous based on the limited data on hand. They could be proliferatin g bile duct epithelial cells, which are also activated and contribute to ECM depos ition during portal tract fibrogenesis.221 Considering that the primary goal of the injury (2AAF/PHx) was to induce oval cell activation in these animals, it is a nature view that the OV6+ cells thriving in the portalportal septa are oval cells or their progenies. In 2AAF/PHx rat model, oval cell activation usually peak around day 9-13. After that most of the oval cells start to differentiate.170 If

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86 this is the case, the oval cells residing with in the septa till day 28 must result from the arresting of differentiation of these cells into hepatocytes. The fact or that prevent oval cell from differentiating could be the excessi ve laminin, which is a major component of basement membrane. At early stage of oval cell activation; oval cell ductules are surrounded by basement membranes, which disa ppear from the oval cell foci when they start to differentiate into small hepatocytes.207 In vitro study also showed that hepatic stem cells expressed hepatocytic phenotype only when losing touch with basement membrane matrix.208 It is possible that oval cell-laminin contact is an inhibitory signal for oval cells to differentiate dow n hepatocytic direction. In fa ct, a number of hepatocytes were seen residing within the septa, whic h were presumably newly derived from oval cells. These hepatocytes were not embedded in laminin and were closely proximal to desmin positive cells, presumably hepatic stellate cells. In addition to being a major source of ECM production, activated hepatic stellate ce lls also show increases in expression of MMPs, whic h serve as modulators of ECM accumulation. It is possible that hepatic stellate cells also secret MMPs to degrade laminin and allow the oval cells to differentiate into hepatocytes. In our SD F-1 overexpression rat model, the SDF-1 is mainly expressed by hepatocytes within the liv er lobule, thus the SD F-1 level in portal region is relatively low (but st ill higher than that of nonoverexpression animals). If SDF1 is the chemotactic factor for stellate cells, one may expect to see fewer hepatic stellate cells recruited to portal-portal septa, because a steeper gradient of SDF-1 exist in the SDF-1 overexpresing liver compared to non-overexpressing animals, with high concentration end in liver lobule and low end in portal region. This could partially explain the heavier laminin deposition and ova l cell detention in the overexpression rats.

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87 Our present overexpression study brings up the possibility that SDF-1 signaling may be involved in portal-portal fibrosis. To ask better defined ques tions and to explore the answers, more comprehens ive study must be conducted to gather the information about the course of the whole process of fibrosis after ova l cell activation, including the identities of the cell types i nvolved, the transition, migration and secretion of these cells. And future studies regarding the putative effects of SDF-1 on portal fibroblasts, hepatic stellate cells and oval cells are pivot al to better understand of the mechanism of liver fibrosis after oval cell activation.

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88 Figure 4 1. Overexpression of SDF-1. A) Elevati on of serum SDF-1 level after infusion of Ad-SDF-GFP to 2AAF/PHx treated rat. B) GFP expression (green) within the liver of 2AAF/PHx/Ad-SDF-GFP tr eated rat. (Origi nal magnification 20X)

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89 Figure 4 2. Oval cell activation at day 9 after 2AAF/PHx with or without SDF-1 overexpression. A) SDF-1 expression (green) within the liver of 2AAF/PHx/Ad-SDF-GFP treated rat. B) H&E staining of the liver of 2AAF/PHx/Ad-SDF-GFP treated rat. C) SDF-1 expression (green) within the liver of 2AAF/PHx/Ad-GFP treated rat. D) H&E staining of the liver of 2AAF/PHx/Ad-GFP treated rat. (Original magnifications 20X)

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90 Figure 4 3. H&E staining of the liver of 2AAF/P Hx treated rat with or without SDF-1 overexpression (day 28). A) and B) 2AAF/PHx/Ad-SDF-GFP. C) and D) 2AAF/PHx/Ad-GFP. (Original magnificat ion: A and C, 4X; B and D, 40X)

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91 Figure 4 4. DPPIV staining of the livers of 2AAF /PHx treated rat with or without SDF-1 overexpression (day 28). A) 2AAF/P Hx/Ad-SDF-GFP. B) 2AAF/PHx/AdGFP. (Original magnifications 4X)

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92 Figure 4 5. Extracellular matrix deposition with th e liver of 2AAF/PHx treated rat with or without SDF-1 overexpression (day 28). A) and B) 2AAF/PHx/Ad-SDFGFP. Stained for Laminin (brown). C) and D) 2AAF/PHx/Ad-GFP. Stained for Laminin (brown). E) and F) Trichrom e staining for collagens (blue) within the liver of 2AAF/PHx/Ad-SDF-GFP tr eated rat and control (2AAF/PHx/AdGFP treated) rat, respectively. (Origina l magnification: A and C, 4X; B and D 40X; E and F, 20X)

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93 Figure 4 6. Double staining of cell markers and laminin in the liver of 2AAF/PHx/AdSDF-GFP treated rats (day 28). A) OV6 (red) and laminin (green). B) OV6 (red) and desmin (green). C) Desmin (red) and laminin (green). (original manification: 40X)

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94 CHAPTER 5 GENERAL CONCLUSIONS The primary goal of this project is to a ssess the role of SDF1 during stem cellaided liver regeneration. To this end, the expression patterns of SDF-1 and its receptor CXCR4 were examined in rat models of oval cell activation. The data reveals that SDF-1 up-regulation is correlated w ith oval cell activation---SDF-1 up-regulation only occur in oval cell induction models but not in ot her regeneration models. During oval cell activation, SDF-1 is expressed by hepatocytes wi thin the liver lobules while its receptor CXCR4 is expressed by oval cells. Furthermore, isolated oval cells responded to SDF-1 gradient by migrating to high concentration of SDF-1 in vitro. These data suggest that SDF-1 play an important ro le in oval cell activation. To further characterize the role of SD F-1in this regeneration pathway, RNA interference technique was employed to knoc kdown SDF-1 expression in the oval cell induction model 2AAF/PHx. As a result, oval cell number was decreased in these animals and the expression of AFP almost lost; the proliferation of oval cells and hepatocytes inhibited, sugge sting compromised oval cell response and hindered liver regeneration in these animals. This line of data further confirmed that SDF-1 play an essential role in stem cell-aided liver rege neration, probably by guiding stem cells to migrate to favorable microenvironment that allow them to proliferate/differentiate. Over-expression of SDF-1 in the liver of 2AAF/PHx rat was used as another strategy to further assess the role of SDF-1 in stem cell-aided liver regeneration, as well as to explore the possible way to enhance the recruitment of stem cells to the liver during

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95 regenerative process. The results showed th at oval cell activation was not enhanced by SDF-1 over-expression in day 9 after the treat ment, neither was the recruitment of bone marrow stem cells. However, the over-exp ression of SDF-1 l eaded to excessive deposition of ECM and robust OV6+ cell accumu lation in the liver 28 days after PHx, suggesting SDF-1 may play a role in liver fibrogenesis related to oval cell activation. Future studies to elucidate the actions of SDF-1 and crosstalk between cytokines in the contexts of oval cell activation and liver fibrogenesis will be critical for the development of novel therapeutic strategy for liver fibros is based on the modulation of SDF-1 signal.

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114 212.Porcile C, Bajetto A, Barbieri F, Barbero S, Bonavia R, Biglieri M, Pirani P, Florio T, Schettini G: Stromal cell-derived factor -1alpha (SDF-1alpha/CXCL12) stimulates ovarian cancer cell growth through the EG F receptor transactivation. Exp Cell Res 2005, 308:241-253 213.Lee Y, Gotoh A, Kwon HJ, You M, Kohli L, Mantel C, Cooper S, Hangoc G, Miyazawa K, Ohyashiki K, Broxmeyer HE : Enhancement of intracellular signaling associated with hematopoietic progen itor cell survival in response to SDF1/CXCL12 in synergy with other cytokines. Blood 2002, 99:4307-4317 214.Mallet VO, Mitchell C, Mezey E, Fabre M, Guidotti JE, Renia L: Bone marrow transplantation in mice leads to a minor population of hepatocytes that can be selectively amplified in vivo. Hepatology 2002, 35:799 215.Theise ND, Nimmakayalu M, Gardner R: Liver from bone marrow in humans. Hepatology 2000, 32:11 216.Kinnman N, Francoz C, BarbuV, We ndum D, Rey C, Hultcrantz R: The myofibroblastic conversion of peribiliary fibrogenic ce lls distinct from hepatic stellate cells is stimulated by platelet-deriv ed growth factor during liver fibrogenesis. Lab Invest 2003, 83: 163 217.Tuchweber B, Desmouli`ere A, Bochaton-Pi allat ML, RubbiaBrandt L, & Gabbiani G: Proliferation and phenotypic modulation of portal fibroblasts in the early stages of cholestatic fibrosis in th e rat. Lab Invest 1996, 74: 265 218.Kinnman N and Housset C: Pe ribiliary myofibroblasts in biliary type liver fibrosis. Frontiers in Bioscience 2002, 7:496 219.Ramadori G and Armbrust T: Cytokines in th e liver. Euro J Gastroentero & Hepato 2001, 13 (7): 777-784 220.Friedman SL: Molecular regul ation of hepatic fibrosis, an integrated cellular response to tissue injury. J Biol Chem 2000, 275:2247 221.Ramadori G, Saile B: Portal tract fibr ogenesis in the liver. Lab Invest 2004, 84:153 159

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115 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Donghang Zheng received the degree of B achelor of Medicine from Shanghai Medical University (China) in 1994; and received the Master of Science degree from the same university in 1999.


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Title: Involvement of SDF-1 in Stem-Cell-Aided Liver Regeneration
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Copyright Date: 2008

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INVOLVEMENT OF SDF-1 IN STEM CELL-AIDED LIVER REGENERATION


By

DONGHANG ZHENG














A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2006































Copyright 2006

by

Donghang Zheng
















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank Dr. Bryon Petersen for his guidance and support throughout

my training. I thank my supervisory committee (Dr. Chen Liu, Dr. Maria Grant, Dr.

Laurence Morel, Dr. Edward Scott and Dr. Naohiro Terada) for their invaluable

guidance.

I thank Marda Jorgensen for sharing with me her extraordinary experience on

immunohi stochemi stry. I also thank my friends and colleagues in the Petersen laboratory,

Seh-hoon Oh, Thomas Shupe, Liya Pi, Jie Deng, Rafel Witek, Alicia Brown, Heather

Hatch, Anna Piscaglia, Youngmi Jung, Jennifer LaPlante, Susan Ellor and Houda

Darwiche, for their help and tolerance.




















TABLE OF CONTENTS


page

ACKNOWLEDGMENT S ............ ...... .__ .............. iii...


LIST OF TABLES ........._._ ...... .__ ..............vi....


LIST OF FIGURES .............. ....................vii


AB STRAC T ................ .............. ix


CHAPTER


1 INTRODUCTION ................. ...............1.......... ......


Summary of Liver Biology ................. ...............2.......... .....
Liver Regeneration .................. .... .... .... .........
Basic Characteristics of Liver Regeneration ................ ........... ............... .6
Hepatocyte-Dependent Liver Regeneration: PHx as a Sample ..........................9
Stem Cell-aided Liver Regeneration .............. ...............21....
Stromal Cell-Derived Factor 1............... ...............30...


2 EXPRESS SION OF SDF-1 DURING OVAL CELL ACTIVATION ................... ......3 8


Introducti on ................. ...............38.................
Materials and Methods .............. ...............40....
Materials and Subjects............... ...............40
Liver Regeneration Models ................... ...............41.
Protein Preparation and Western Blot Analysis ................. .................4
Immunohistochemistry ................. ...............43..._.__ ......
M igration Studies .............. ...............43....
Re sults................. ......___ .......... ... .... .. ..............4
SDF-1 Protein Expression in Various Liver Regeneration Models ....................44
Immunohistochemi stry for SDF-1 a and CXCR4 ................ ......................46


3 KNOCKDOWN OF SDF-1 COMPROMISES OVAL CELL ACTIVATION .........59


Introducti on ............ ..... .._ ._ ...............59....
Materials and Methods .............. ...............61....
Animal Experiments ........._.._ ..... .___ ...............61.....
Recombinant Adenovirus .............. ...............61....












SiRNA Expression Cassette ................. ...............61........... ....
Generation of Recombinant Adenovirus ......... ................. ...............62
Immunohi stology ............... .. ...... ....... ........... ............6
Immunofluorescent Staining for SDF-1. ................... ...............6
Immunostaining for OV 6. ............. ...............63.....
Immunostaining for Ki67 .............. ...............63....
Northern Blotting............... ...............64
Western Blotting............... ...............64
TUNEL Analysis............... ...............65
R e sults........._..... ..._._ ...... ..._ ............ ...........6
SDF-1 Expression in Rat Liver after 2AAF/PHx........ ........._ ........._ ..........65
Suppression of SDF-1 Expression by SiSDF in the Livers of 2AAF/PHx Rats .65
Inhibition of Oval Cell Response by Knocking Down SDF-1 .........................66
Decrease of Oval Cell Number Was Not Related to Oval Cell Apoptosis .........66
Discussion ............. ...... ._ ...............67....


4 EFFECTS OF SDF-1 OVEREXPRESSION DURING OVAL CELL-AIDED
LIVER REGENERATION ............_...... ...............77....


Introducti on ............. ...... ._ ...............77...
M materials and M ethods .............. ...............78....
Recombinant Adenovirus ............... ...............78....
S DF -1 Over expression Cassette. ......____ ....... ___ ... ....__..........78
Generation of Adenovirus. ........._.._......._... ........ .... ... ....__. ..78
Bone Marrow Transplantation............... ............7
DPPIV Staining .............. ...............79....
Laminin Staining .............. ..... ...............80
Immunofluorescence of Desmin/Laminin ........___......... ..._ ........._._...80
Immunofluorescence of OV6/Laminin. ....._._._ ........._. .. ...._._.........81
Immunofluorescence of OV6/Desmin ......___ ...... ..__ ........_.........81
ELISA for SDF-1 .............. ...............81....
R esults........ ...............__ ... ..........__ .... ........__ ........... ....8
Overexpression of SDF in the Liver Does Not Enhance Oval Cell Activation
at D ay 9 ............... ... ...... ... ..... ..._ ......... .. ............8
Overexpression of SDF in the Liver Promote ECM Deposition in the Liver at
Day 28 after 2AAF/PHx .............. ...............82....
Discussions .............. ...............83....


5 GENERAL CONCLUSIONS ............ .....__ .. ...............94.


LIST OF REFERENCES ............_...... ...............96...


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ............_...... ...............115...

















LIST OF TABLES

Table pg

1-1 Rodent models of oval cell induction ......................... ...............37

1-2 Liver cell lineage markers ....... ................ ...............37.....


















LIST OF FIGURES


Figure pg

2-1 Western blot analysis on whole cell lysate obtained from rats treated with CCl4 ...53

2-2 Western blot analysis for SDF-la on crude insoluble extracts from both CCl4
and oval cell-aided model.. ............ ...............53.....

2-3 Western blot analysis for SDF-1 in the crude insoluble extracts from acute AA,
2-AAF/AA, and 2AAF/PHx treated rats ................. ........._. ....... 54.__ ...

2-4 Immunohistochemistry for SDF-1 on frozen rat liver sections ........._..... ..............55

2-5 Immunohi stochemi stry for CXCR4 on frozen rat liver secti ons ........._.._. ..............5 6

2-6 Immunohistochemistry for SDF-1 and CXCR4 on liver sections obtained from
rats exposed to 2AAF/AA day 9 post-injury............... ..............5

3-1 Immunofluorescent staining of SDF-1 in normal rat liver and 2AAF/PHx rat
liver............... ...............71.

3-2 Ad-siSDF knocks down SDF-1 expression in 2AAF/PHx rat livers and inhibits
the oval cell reaction in these animals............... ...............72

3-3 OV6 immunostaining of rat liver sections ........._ ...... __. ......__ ..........73

3-4 Knockdown of SDF-1 and the expression of AFP. ......____ ... ...... .............74

3-5 No significant apoptosis detected by TUNEL staining in 2AAF/PHx rat livers......75

3-6 Knockdown of SDF-1 hindered hepatic cell proliferation ................. ........._......76

4-1 Overexpression of SDF-1 .............. ...............88....

4-2 Oval cell activation at day 9 after 2AAF/PHx with or without SDF-1
overexpression............... .............8

4-3 H&E staining of the liver of 2AAF/PHx treated rat with or without SDF-1
overexpression (day 28) .............. ...............90....










4-4 DPPIV staining of the livers of 2AAF/PHx treated rat with or without SDF-1
overexpression (day 28) .............. ...............91....

4-5 Extracellular matrix deposition with the liver of 2AAF/PHx treated rat with or
without SDF-1 overexpression (day 28) .............. ...............92....















Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

INVOLVEMENT OF SDF-1 INT STEM CELL-AIDED LIVER REGENERATION

By

Donghang Zheng

May 2006

Chair: Bryon E. Petersen
Maj or Department: Medical Sciences--Molecular Cell Biology

Stromal derived factor-1 (SDF-1) and its receptor CXCR4 have been shown to play

a critical role in regulation of stem/progenitor cell activities, such as migration and

proliferation. In this study, the role of SDF-1 and its receptor CXCR4 was investigated as

a possible mechanism for oval cell activation in oval cell aided liver regeneration. In liver

injury models where oval cell activation is involved, hepatocytes increase the expression

of SDF-1. While in hepatocyte-driven liver regeneration model, SDF-1 is not

upregulated. In addition, CXCR4 is expressed by oval cells. Lastly, in vitro chemotaxis

assays demonstrated that oval cells migrate along a SDF-1 gradient, suggesting that the

SDF-1/CXCR4 interaction is a mechanism by which the oval cell compartment could be

activated and possibly recruit a second wave of bone marrow stem cells to the injured

liver.

To further assess the role of SDF-1 in stem cell-aided liver regeneration, SDF-1

expression was knocked down in the liver of 2AAF/PHx treated rats using siRNA

delivered by recombinant adenovirus, and oval cell activation in these animals was










examined. Results showed that the oval cell response was compromised in these animals,

as evidenced by a decreased number of OV6 positive oval cells. In addition, knockdown

of SDF-1 expression caused a dramatic decrease in AFP expression, implying impaired

oval cell activation in these animals. These results indicate that SDF-1 is an essential

molecule needed in oval cell activation.

Overexpression of SDF-1 in the liver of 2AAF/PHx treated rats fails to enhance the

stem cell response to the injury. But in the long term, overexpression of SDF-1 during

oval cell activation causes increased ECM deposition in the liver, which is similar to

portal-portal liver fibrosis. The significance of SDF-1 in liver fibrogenesis is yet to be

investigated.

In conclusion, these studies begin to shed light on some facets of the mechanisms

of oval cell-aided liver regeneration and liver fibrosis, which may someday lead to

development of novel strategies to enhance stem cell-aided liver regeneration or to

resolve liver fibrosis.















CHAPTER 1
INTTRODUCTION

The liver plays a critical role in maintaining metabolic homeostasis of the body.

This includes the processing of dietary nutrients, and the synthesis of a large spectrum of

serum proteins, enzymes and cofactors. The liver is the main detoxifying organ removing

wastes and xenobiotics by metabolic conversion and biliary excretion. Functioning as a

way station between splanchnic and systemic circulation, the liver is vulnerable to a wide

variety of metabolic, toxic, microbial and circulatory insults. Thanks to evolutionary

adaptation, the liver features an unusual regenerative capability and enormous functional

reserve. Therefore, mild liver damage usually does not cause noticeable symptoms. But

when progression of liver disease finally ablates a considerable portion of functional liver

parenchymal cells, the consequence of hepatic failure could be life threatening.

For patients with terminal liver disease, a successful liver transplantation is their

last resort nowadays. Besides the potential complications inherent to long-term

immunosuppresion, liver transplantation faces another maj or hurdle, scarcity of donor

organs. As in other fields of solid organ transplantation, the gap between the number of

patients listed as candidates for liver transplantation and the number of transplants

performed has grown over the last 10 years (through 2001). According to the report of

United Network for Organ Sharing (www.unos. org/data), the waiting list increased more

than 6-folds from 1993 to 2000 (from 2,902 patients to 18,047 patients). But the number

of donor organs recovered only increased from 3800 to 5382. The prospect of hepatocyte

transplantation also suffers from a shortage of cell sources.









Because of the vast need for liver transplants, many researchers sought alternative

optionss. One option would be to exploit the potentiality of adult stem cells to repair

damaged liver. Adult tissue stem cells are known to present in a large variety of tissues

such as skin, intestine, bone marrow et al and represent a potential source of cells needed

for normal tissue turnover and damage repairing. In the adult liver, a group of cells called

oval cells have been shown to be able to differentiate to mature hepatocytes and bile duct

cells after toxic injury or massive necrosis. These cells are facultative liver stem

(progenitor) cells keeping a reservoir for liver regeneration.l A body of recent

publications show that bone marrow stem cells also provide a reservoir for hepatocytes

and oval cells.2-4 It is of great interest that in adult animal a number of cell types, both

hepatic and non-hepatic, retain the ability to differentiate into hepatocytes. Further

understanding of these mechanisms governing this phenomenon could enhance the

development of novel therapies for tissue regeneration, and not solely for hepatocytes.

This study aims to investigate the signals) that may control stem cell migration and

activation during liver regeneration, and sets to exploit possible way to enhance

recruitment of stem cells in the regenerative process.

Summary of Liver Biology

The liver is a large parenchymal organ consisting of complex array of cells and

vasculature. It represents about 2% of the body weight in humans and 5% in the mice.

The liver has two separate sources of afferent blood supply---the hepatic artery and the

portal vein. The hepatic artery provides liver with oxygenated blood, and the portal vein

brings in venous blood rich in nutrients (and digested toxins too) from the splanchic

vascular bed. The efferent blood drains to the hepatic vein and further to the vena cava.









The bulk of the liver is primarily composed of the hepatocytes, stellate cells (Ito

cells), Kupffer cells, sinusoidal epithelial cells, and biliary epithelial cells. The major

organismal liver functions are carried out by hepatocytes, which represent about 90% of

total liver weight and about 60% of the total cell number. Hepatocytes are large, cuboidal

epithelial cells with a basal surface facing the sinusoids; and an apical surface (also called

the canalicular surface) facing the bile canaliculi. Hepatocytes exchange metabolites with

the blood on the basal surface and secrete bile at the canalicular surface. Although

somewhat variable among species, a large proportion of adult hepatocytes are

binucleated, with some nuclei being tetraploid. Thus, hepatocytes can have 2n, 4n, or 8n

total DNA content. In a microscopic view, hepatocytes are arranged in a single-layer cell

plate called the hepatic plate, which bifurcates and merges freely while extending from

portal space to the central venule. The limiting plate is the first row of hepatocytes that

separates liver parenchyma from the portal space. The continuous mass of hepatocytic

plates is interpenetrated by hepatic sinusoids, a liver counterpart of capillary. Blood from

the hepatic artery branch and portal vein branch enters the sinusoids, delivers oxygen and

nutrients to the liver cells, picks up carbon dioxide and metabolic products from the liver

cells, and drains into the central vein branch. Fenestrated endothelial cells form the wall

between the sinusoids and hepatocytes, facilitating the exchange of materials between

hepatocytes and blood. Bile canaliculi are lined by two adj acent plates of hepatocytes and

drain bile into bile ductules, which are lined by biliary epithelial cells. The canaliculo-

ductular junction connects the bile canaliculi and bile ductule, and is also known as canal

of Hering. The portal triad harbors the branches of the hepatic artery, portal vein and bile

duct. Hepatocytes vary in biochemical properties and pattern of gene expression









according to their proximodistal orientation to the portal triad. The term 'metabolic

zonation' has been coined to indicate the different properties of zone-1, zone-2, and zone-

3 hepatocytes. Zone-1 hepatocytes are close to the portal triad, zone-2 cells are in the

middle, and zone-3 consists of cells directly adj acent to the central vein.

Kupffer cells represent about 5% of liver cells and reside in the sinusoids. These

cells are macrophages of hematopoietic origin capable of replicating within the liver

itself. Stelalte cells represent about 5-10% of the total number of hepatic cell and are

located in space between endothelial cells and hepatocytes (Disse's space). In addition to

storing vitmin A, they are essential for the synthesis of extracellular matrix proteins and

produce many growth factors that play an essential role in biology of liver regeneration.'

Oval cells are the apparent progenitors of liver hepatocytes and epithelial cell, and are

found in regenerating liver after partial hepatectomy or chemical damage.l

The liver involves in a wide variety of biochemical functions. The liver plays an

important role in intermediary metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids, and lipids,

including gluconeogenesis, synthesis and storage of glycogen, production of glutamine,

conversion of ammonia to urea, synthesis of very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) and

so on. The liver is the center for biotransformation involved in detoxification and

elimination of drugs as well as bilirubin. The liver is also the primary organ for synthesis

and secretion of serum proteins such as albumin, transferring, coagulation factors and

complements. In addition, the liver produces bile, which is important for digestion and

absorption of dietary lipid, and elimination of cholesterol and copper.

The liver develops from a diverculum of the floor of the foregut. 6 Under the

induction of cardiac mesoderm, the founder cells (endodermal cells that give rise to the









epithelial elements of the liver) start to activate liver-specific genes and invade the

mesenchyma of the septum transversum. Endodermal cells later generate hepatocytes and

nonparenchymal epithelial cells, while the mesenchyma give rise to sinusoidal lining

cells. The early hepatocytes coalesce around sinusoids in the mesenchma, forming the

liver bud. Early cells in the liver primordium are positive for ot-fetoprotein (AFP) and

albumin. The more-differentiated parenchymal cells forming hepatic cords from day 10

to 17 in rat liver development are generally called hepatoblasts, and can differentiate into

hepatocytes and bile duct cells and thus have been considered equivalent to fetal liver

stem cells. 7 In rats, mice, and most likely also in humans, AFP+albumin+ hepatoblasts

located near large vascular space close to the hilus give rise to primitive intrahepatic bile

ducts. These structures contain cells that express AFP and albumin as well as

cytokeratines (CK) 7, 8, 18 and 19. In the rat, CK-7 and CK-19 are expressed exclusively

in the newly formed ducts, while the surrounding hepatoblastes contain only CK-8 and

CK-18. In humans, a significant proportion of hepatoblasts express CK-19 in early

gestration. Expression of this marker increases in cells near vascular spaces forming

ducts, but progressively decreases and is no longer detectable after 14 weeks of gestation

in the hepatoblasts, which differentiate into hepatocytes in the rest of the parenchyma.9

Cells of primitive intrahepatic bile duct can be considered transitional because they

express markers of both hepatocyte (AFP, albumin, CK-8, and CK-18) and bile duct

(CK-7, CK-19) lineages, a pattern of expression also found in the oval cell compartment

of hepatocarcinogenesis. These data suggested that the primitive intrahepatic bile ducts

formed from AFP+, albumin+ hepatoblasts are embryologic counterparts of the oval

cell.'









Oval cells are the heterogeneous population of nonparenchymal epithelial cells

emerging from the portal triads at the early stage of liver carcinogenesis induced by most

chemical carcinogens. Ultrastructurally, oval cells closely resemble cells that form

terminal bile ductules, and they form irregular duct-like structures that enclose lumens,

which connect to adj acent, pre-existing bile ducts. The oval cell compartment contains

transitional cells that express phenotypic features of hepatocytes and intrahepatic biliary

epithelium. Lineage studies showed that these cells differentiate into hepatocytes and

biliary epithelium.lo, 11Given the proliferation pattern of the oval cell compartment in

carcinogenesis and the differentiation of primitive intrahepatic bile duct in organogenesis,

it is logical to expect putative stem cells in the adult liver should be localized in the canal

of Hering---the smallest units of the biliary tree closest to the parenchyma.

Liver Regeneration

Basic Characteristics of Liver Regeneration

The liver has a remarkable capacity to regenerate after major tissue loss. This has

been demonstrated by a number of experimental liver injury models as well as clinical

observations. A widely used model of liver repair is the partial hepatectomy (PHx)

model. This involves surgical removal of specific lobes amounting to approximately two-

thirds of the liver mass. Liver regeneration is highly efficient. First described in 193 1 by

Higgins and Andersen, 12 rat liver grew back to its original mass approximately 10 days

after the surgical resection. This process is fulfilled by enlargement of the remaining lobe

rather than re-growth of the removed lobes. Thus, it is also called 'compensatory

hyperplasia of the liver', although the term 'liver regeneration' is used more often. In

addition to cell proliferation, which makes up for the lost liver mass, reformation of

normal liver architecture also occurs to ensure full restoration of liver function. Similar









results are also observed in other animal models involving diffused liver damage, such as

hepatocyte necrosis or apoptosis induced by hepatic toxin or virus.

The liver has an almost unlimited capacity to regenerate. In repeated PHx

experiments, the rat liver was able to regenerate each time and achieved its previous

mass, even after 12 sequential resections. 13 Serial transplantation and liver repopulation

in experimental animals further demonstrated the almost unlimited replication capacity of

adult hepatocytes. In the alb-uPA transgenic mice, which experience severe liver damage

and postnatal death of most pups, repopulation of nearly the entire liver occurs through

proliferation of a small portion (1%) of the hepatocytes that have undergone spontaneous

transgene inactivation. 14 Subsequent studies by Rhim et al.15,16 Showed that

transplantation of both syngeneic and xynogeneic (rat and human) adult hepatocytes

could be used to reconstitute the damaged livers of the newborn alb-uPA mice. Using a

gene knockout approach, Overturf et al.(1997) created a mouse model of liver

repopulation based on the human disease hereditary tyrosinemia type I, which is due to a

lack of the enzyme fumarylacetoacetate hydrolase (FAH), and renders a selective

advantage to transplanted wild-type hepatocytes.l7 In hepatocyte transplantation-

repopulation studies using the FAH-/- mouse model, they found that normal male adult

hepatocytes, when transplanted to female FAH knockout recipients, could repopulate the

recipient animals liver to >90% within 6 to 8 weeks. Rescue of FAH-deficient animals

and restoration of liver function required as few as 1000 donor cells.'" Furthermore, the

genetically marked donor hepatocytes could be re-isolated from repopulated recipient

liver and re-transplanted in limiting numbers. This process could be successfully repeated

in a serial fashion at least eight times with no apparent decrease in proliferative potential









and with no evidence of abnormal liver function or hepatic architecture. This experiment

demonstrated that the regenerative potential of hepatocytes exceeds 69 cell doublings,

equivalent to a 7.3 x1020-fOld expansion, and is similar to that of hematopoietic stem cells.

Liver regeneration is a tightly regulated process. After PHx, the normally quiescent

hepatocytes rapidly re-enter cell cycle. In rat liver, the rate of DNA synthesis in

hepatocytes begins to increase about 12 hours after PHx and peaks around 24 hours.19

Other cells of the liver start DNA synthesis about 24 hours after the hepatocytes. The

original liver mass is restores in 5 to 7 days. After that, DNA synthesis of hepatic cells

abruptly stops. It is obvious the liver mass is precisely regulated. An example of this is

when a large liver is transplanted into a relatively small recipient; the liver is gradually

decreases in size and becomes proportional to the new body.20 Many believe that

regulation of liver mass is key to maintain the homeostasis of functional capacity of the

liver. The set point for growth control is the ratio between liver mass and body mass

rather than liver mass per se. In another words, the body tends to maintain a liver mass

only enough to meet its metabolic demands.21 How the body senses the liver/body mass

ratio and control liver growth has been under intensive investigation for decades. Jirtle

and Michalopoulos22 Showed that when isolated hepatocytes are transplanted into an

extrahepatic site, those cells enter into replication after PHx. Molten and Bucher used

parabiotic rats to show that hepatectomy of one member of pairs causes DNA synthesis

within the hepatocytes of the intact liver of the other member, with the maximum effect

seen when the liver of one animal is totally removed.23 These early studies establish that

factors) in circulation are responsible for triggering liver regeneration. Significant efforts

have been exerted afterwards to identify these factors and dissect the signaling pathways









that control liver regeneration. Some growth factors and cytokines have been shown to be

critical players during the regenerative process. (Discussed in section 'hepatocyte

dependent liver regeneration')

Restoration of liver parenchyma after liver injury depends on a two-tier cell system

composed of hepatocytes and progenitor (stem) cells, known as oval cells. What is

unique to the liver is that the differentiated cells hepatocytess) constitute the first line of

response to injury or resection, while the progenitor cells (oval cells) function as a

reserve compartment. This is distinctly different from other tissues, such as skeletal

muscle, in which differentiated myocytes do not replicate, but regeneration after injury

can occur through the proliferation of precursor cells (satellite cells). Mature hepatocytes

are very effective in responding to replicative signals after PHx and have enormous

proliferative capacity. As a general rule, replication of existing hepatocytes is the

quickest way to repair damaged liver parenchyma. Oval cells replicate and differentiate

into hepatocytes only when the replication of mature hepatocytes is delayed or entirely

blocked, in situations such as 2-actylaminofluorene (2AAF) treatment followed by partial

hepatectomy. Hepatocyte-dependent and oval cell-dependent liver regeneration will be

discussed separately in following sections, using PHx and 2AAF/PHx as sample models

respectively.

Hepatocyte-Dependent Liver Regeneration: PHx as a Sample

Liver regeneration after PHx is carried out by proliferation of all the existing

mature cellular populations in remaining liver. These include hepatocytes; biliary

epithelial cells; fenestrated endothelial cells; Kupffer cells; and Ito cells. All of these cells

proliferate to rebuild the lost hepatic tissue. Hepatocytes are the first to proliferate. The

kinetics of cell proliferation differs slightly from species to species. In rats, DNA










synthesis of hepatocytes typically starts at 10 to 12 hours post PHx. The first peak of

DNA synthesis in hepatocytes occurs at about 24 hours, with a smaller peak between 36

and 48 hours. Because only two-thirds of the hepatic tissue is removed, restoration of the

original number of hepatocytes theoretically requires 1.66 proliferative cycles per

residual hepatocyte. Most of the hepatocytes (95% in young and 75% in very old rats) in

the residual lobes participate in one or two proliferative events. Hepatocyte proliferation

starts in the periporta areas and then precedes to the pericentral areas by 36 to 48 hours.

The other cells of the liver enter into DNA synthesis about 24 hours after the hepatocytes,

with a peak of DNA synthesis at 48 hours or later.19 The kinetics of cell proliferation and

the growth factors produced by proliferating hepatocytes suggest that hepatocytes provide

the mitogenic stimuli leading to proliferation of the other cells. After 2 to 3 days of cell

proliferation, new hepatocytes form clusters surrounding capillaries.

Typical hepatic histology is gradually restored with the help of Ito cells, which

send processes that penetrate the hepatocyte clumps and start producing several types of

laminin. Eventually, the small hepatocyte clumps become rearranged into the typical

hepatocyte plates seen in the mature liver. The capillaries of the small hepatocyte clumps

lose their basement membrane and change into true hepatic sinusoids, which are

surrounded by very scant matrix and lined by fenestrated endothelial cells and Kupffer

cells. By day 7, hepatic lobules are larger in size than those before regeneration.

Hepatocytes are arranged in plates consisting of two cell layers as opposed to the one cell

layer of the normal liver. It is not clear whether there is a net increase in the number of

lobules or whether existing lobules merely become larger in size, though evidence

suggests that both phenomena occur.










Hepatocyte regeneneration is accomplished by a sequence of distinct phases: an

initiation phase, rendering hepatocytes in a state of replicative competence; a

proliferation phase, where expansion of the cell population population occurs, and a

termination phase, where cell growth is suppressed to terminate regeneration at a set

pomnt.

The iniatiation step of liver regeneration is characterized by priming quiescent (GO)

hepatocytes to enter a cell division cycle. Priming involves the activation of a group of

transcription factors, which are necessary, but not sufficient for the S phase completion;

they comprise the nuclear factor for kappa chains in B cells (NFicB), signal transducer

and activator of transcription-3 (STAT3), activator protein-1 (AP-1), CCAAT enhancer

binding protein (C/EBPP), and several immediate early genes, such as c-fos, c-myc and c-

jun. The priming step is reversible until the cells have crossed the so-called G1

checkpoint, the cells thereupon being irreversibly committed for replication.

It is thought that loss of functional liver mass after PHx stimulates the release of a

number of factors, acting in a cascade-like fashion. Gut-derived factors, such as

lipopolysaccharide (LPS), are upregulated after liver injury or hepatectomy and reach the

liver through the portal blood supply. They activate hepatic non-parenchymal cells

(including Kupffer cells and stellate cells) and increase the production of tumour necrosis

factor a (TNFa) and interleukin 6 (IL-6). Other factors are released from the pancreas

(insulin), duodenum or salivary gland (epidermal growth factor; EGF), adrenal gland

(norepinepherine), thyroid gland (triodothronine; T3) and stellate cells (hepatocyte

growth factor; HGF). Cooperative signals from these factors push the resting hepatocytes









through cell-cycle checkpoint controls, i.e. to move from GO, through Gl, to the S phase

of the cell cycle. This leads to DNA synthesis and hepatocyte proliferation.24

Principal factors active in initiation phase comprise two cytokines: TNF-a and

interleukin-6 (IL-6), which render hepatocytes in a state of replicative competence

(priming). Kupffer cells produce most of the TNF-a and IL-6 in the liver after PHx.

TNF-a acts through two different receptors, TNFR1 (CD 120a) and TNFR2 (CD 120 b)

in affecting cell proliferation, differentiation, and cell death. Using TNF-receptor-1

(TNF-R1) knockout mice, it was shown that TNF-a signalling is required for a normal

proliferative response after PHx.25 This effect seems to be largely mediated by the ability

of TNFu to induce IL-6, as treatment with IL-6 corrects the defect in DNA synthesis seen

in TNF-R1 knockout mice after PHx. For unexplained reasons, however, the absence of

TNF-a does not impair liver regeneration.26 TNF-a induces the production of IL-6 by

binding to its receptor on Kupffer cells and activating NF-KB, which in turn activates

transcription of IL-6. The potentially noxious effects of TNF-u, such as the release of

reactive oxygen species (ROS) from mitochondria, appears to be controlled by the

prompt up-regulation of survival genes that regulate mitochondrial membrane

permeability, and hepatocytes may even exploit a transient ROS surge to evoke a

proliferative response.27

IL-6 is a key inducer of transcription factors involved in liver regeneration. Binding

of IL-6 to its receptor IL-6R, which is associated with two subunits of gp130, stimulates

the tyrosine-kinase activity of the associated Janus-kinase-family member usually

JAKl. Activated JAK then phosphorylates the associated gpl30 and STAT3 on a

Tyrosine residue, which results in the dimerization of STAT3. Dimerized STAT3









translocates to the nucleus and activates the transcription of target genes. Stimulation of

gpl30 also activates the MAPK signaling cascade, which is crucial for cellular

proliferation, and recent evidence indicates that IL-6 signalling can also directly activate

kinases that are involved in cell survival including phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)

and AKT.

IL-6 is elevated in the first hours after PHx, i.e. much earlier than DNA synthesis in

hepatocytes. This increase of IL-6 activates the target genes that control GO/G1 transition

through two main pathways--- the STAT3 and MAPK signaling pathway. Liver

regeneration after PHx is impaired in the livers of IL-6-/- mice, and is characterized by

liver necrosis and liver failure, a reduced DNA-synthesis response in hepatocytes, and

discrete Gl-phase abnormalities, including the lack of STAT3 activation and selective

abnormalities in gene expression.28 The defect is limited to hepatocytes as the DNA-

synthesis response seems normal in IL-6-/- non-parenchymal cells. Defective liver

regeneration can be explained by the large number of immediate-early genes that are

regulated, at least in part, by IL-6 pathway.29 Treatment of IL-6-/- mice with IL-6 in the

absence of partial hepatectomy induces a much smaller set of genes in the liver, which

indicates that IL-6 cooperates with other factors that are induced by partial hepatectomy

to activate the rest of the up-regulated genes. Stem-cell factor (SCF), which binds the

receptor tyrosine kinase Kit, is one of the targets of IL-6 signaling. The mechanism by

which IL-6 activates SCF is unknown. However, regenerative changes in IL-6-/- mice

can be corrected by treatment with SCF. In addition, SCF can directly activate STAT3

independently of IL-6 signaling, and it is also known to activate the MAPK signal-

transduction pathway.









Once the cells have been primed, the progression to G1 phase is dependent on the

presence of continued stimulation by mitogens, such as EGF, TGF-oc and most potent of

all, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF).

HGF is synthesized by non-parenchymal cells, particularly stellate cells, and

therefore affects hepatocytes in a paracrine manner. In the rat, plasma concentrations of

HGF rise more than 20-fold within 1 hour after PHx.30 HGF concentrations decline

slowly during the first 24 hours but remain elevated for more than 72 hours, eventually

returning to normal. Since HGF has been shown to be a potent mitogen for hepatocytes in

culture,31 it is reasonable to postulate that the rapid rise of HGF in the plasma 1 hour after

PHx is responsible for leading hepatocytes to DNA synthesis 23 hours later. This

scenario is compatible with the time kinetics of the appearance of blood-borne

regenerative factors as well as the rapid changes in immediate early gene expression.

HGF induces expression of some immediate early genes,32 Suggesting that HGF may be

one of the stimuli leading to the rapid changes in gene expression after PHx.

The HGF precursor, pro-HGF, is rapidly activated by proteases--such as uPA

(urokinase-type plasminogen activator) and its downstream effector plasminogen--after

PHx or liver injury. Blocking uPA delays the appearance of HGF, and thereby delays

liver regeneration, whereas blocking plasminogen-activator inhibitor (PAI) accelerates

the release of HGF and thereby accelerates liver regeneration.

HGF regulates various processes in the liver, including direct stimulation of

hepatocyte proliferation. As HGF and its receptor, Met, are important growth factors in

various tissues, and knockout of their genes results in a lethal phenotype, A liver-specific

conditional knockout of Met was developed to show that the HGF-Met pathway is









important for DNA synthesis after liver injury.33 Also, pharmacologic tools, including

antibodies and adenoviruses, have shown that HGF and a downstream regulator--TGFu

--function in the mitogenic response of the liver.

Like many growth factors, HGF has pleiotropic effects on various mitogenic

signaling pathways. HGF activates the receptor tyrosine kinase Met as well as various

downstream pathways, which include those that involve PI3K, ERK, S6 kinase and

AKT.34 f? WitrO Studies in isolated hepatocytes indicate that the mitogenic effect of HGF

is mediated, in part, through upregulation of another growth factor, TGFa.

In contrast to HGF, which stimulates hepatocyte replication by a paracrine or

endocrine mechanism, TGFu is an autocrine growth factor, that is, it is produced by

hepatocytes and acts on these cells through binding the EGF receptor.35 It can also

function through a juxtacrine mechanism, which involves the binding of membrane

anchored TGFu from one cell to the EGF receptor of another. In this way, both cell

adhesion and activation of the receptor are accomplished. TGFu mRNA is induced in

hepatocytes within 2 to 3 hours after PHx, rises to a peak between 12 and 24 hours, and

remains elevated for at least 48 hours after PHx.36 Enhanced expression of TGFu in

hepatocytes under the influence of the albumin promoter leads to sustained high levels of

hepatocyte DNA synthesis and eventually to tumor formation.37'38

Whether these findings apply to regeneration, however, is not entirely clear. In

TGFu knockout mice, liver regeneration proceeds normally.39 This, however, may be due

to a compensatory increase in other members of the EGF receptor family of ligands.

Other growth factors involved in liver regeneration include epidermal growth factor

(EGF), acidic fibroblast growth factor (aFGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor









(VEGF). Although EGF is not up-regulated early after PHx, it may play a mitogenic role

in liver regeneration by abruptly becoming more available to hepatocytes after PHx. EGF

is continually made available to the liver by the Brunner' s glands of the duodenum,

through portal circulation.40 EGF is taken up by liver in one pass and, as with HGF; it

deposits itself in the periportal matrix.41 A decrease of hepatic mass to one-third by PHx

increases the concentration of EGF (available through the portal circulation) per unit liver

weight by 3-fold. In addition norepinephrine, a substance that also increases dramatically

after PHx, stimulates secretion of EGF by the Brunner' s glands,42 which may further

increase the amount of EGF entering the liver after PHx. Rapid tyrosine phosphorylation

and down-regulation of the EGF receptor occur shortly after PHx,43 Suggesting that EGF

may indeed play a mitogenic role early in the process. Production of aFGF and VEGF

may be part of a programmed set of events that aim to restore normal histology, since

both of them are well-established angiogenic signals.

Besides those growth factors that provide direct mitogenic signals to the

progression of regeneration, some other factors function by enhancing the effect of

mitogens and reducing the effect of inhibitory substance. These factors include hormones

and neurotransmitters, such as insulin, glucagon, noradrenaline, adrenaline, thyroid and

parathyroid hormones, as well as calcium and vitamin D.

HGF and TNFa-IL-6 signaling are necessary for liver regeneration, but, as

mentioned above, other signals and transcription factors are involved in the liver-

regeneration response that have not yet been linked to any one growth factor or cytokine.

There are a few signal-transduction molecules (for example, ERK and JNK),

transcription factors (e.g. API and C/EBPP) and other molecules (i. c. insulin-like-









growthfactor-binding protein (IGFBPl), which seems to be regulated by both growth

factors and cytokines. This allows speculation about how the combination of cytokine

and growth factor signals might lead to robust liver regeneration and repair after injury.

Less is understood about the mechanisms by which regenerative process is stopped

after appropriate liver mass has been restored. The termination response should include

arrest of cell proliferation and apoptosis of the redundant cells. The regenerative pathway

has several checkpoints whereby the feedback inhibition of specific growth factor and

cytokine-mediated pathways could regulate organ size.

Suppressors of cytokine signaling (SOCS), as the name suggests, are important

negative regulators of cytokine signaling that prevent the tyrosine phosphorylation of

STAT proteins. SOCS directly interact with phosphorylated JAK kinases and prevent the

activation of STATs. It has been shown that IL-6 signaling in the liver causes the rapid

upregulation of SOCS3, which correlates with the subsequent down-regulation of

phosphorylated STAT3, thereby terminating the IL-6 signal.44 This finding could explain

why overexpression of IL-6 can, at times, inhibit cell growth and cause liver injury.45 The

notable upregulation of SOCS3 and other cytokine inhibitors by IL-6 could block its own

signaling or the signaling of other cytokines. However, SOCS proteins are part of an

important mechanism that prevents uncontrolled cytokine signaling. In addition, IL-6

itself could have a role in terminating the HGF signal by inducing PAI (plasminogen

activator inhibitor), which blocks the processing of pro-HGF into active HGF.46

Perhaps the most well-known hepatocyte anti-proliferative factors within the liver

are TGFP and related TGFP-family members such as activin.47 TGFP is produced mainly

by hepatic stellate cells, and the up-regulated expression of TGFP leads to liver fibrosis









and apoptosis. In the rat, TGFP mRNA increases within 3 to 4 hours after PHx, reaching

plateau amounts at 48 to 72 hours.48 Because DNA synthesis in hepatocytes eventually

stops at that time, it is reasonable to postulate that this may be mediated by a paracrine

mito-inhibitory effect of TGFP. Infusion of TGFP after PHx suppresses the hepatocyte

DNA synthesis peak at 24 hours, though DNA synthesis returns by 72 hours.49

Hepatocytes isolated from regenerating liver 12 to 48 hours after PHx are resistant to

TGFP mitoinhibitory effects.'o This might be a consequence of the downregulation of

TGFP receptors on hepatocytes during the same time frame." Resistance to TGFP by

regenerating hepatocytes is an important phenomenon because it may allow hepatocytes

to proliferate even though concentrations of TGF-Pl1 are increasing. Sensitivity to TGFP

returns by 96 hours; however, hepatocyte proliferation stops between 48 and 72 hours, a

time when they are still resistant to TGFP. Overall, the role that TGF-Pl plays during

liver regeneration is not clear. Obviously hepatocytes proceed through regeneration

despite the TGFP increase. On the other hand, TGF-Pl is a mito-inhibitor and thus a

logical candidate to cause the end of regeneration.

Similarly, activin is a pro-apoptotic member of the TGFP family that blocks

hepatocyte mitogenesis. Activin shows diminished signaling during liver regeneration

when its cellular-receptor level is reduced, but the receptor level is restored once liver

regeneration is terminated.52

Apoptosis holds a key position in the intricate balance between gain and loss of

target cells, also within a regenerative response of the liver.53 There is evidence that, in

the liver, a physiological role of the Fas/Fas ligand system is operational in the removal

of senescent hepatocytes. In liver regenration after PHx in the rat, Fas mRNA is









significantly decreased by 2 hours, this down-regulation continuing until 18 hours, which

then slowly recovers after 6 days,54 Suggesting that physiological Fas expression is again

achieved when liver mass has been reconstituted. Liver caspase-3-like protease, which is

specifically activated in apoptosis, is increased at 18 through 48 hours after PHx in rat;"

again suggesting that apoptosis is another key mechanism for termination phase.

Bile ducts and biliary ductules regenerate in concert with the arterial vessels

accompanying them, and the cells making part of the periductal sheath may modulate the

ductular growth behavior via factors secreted by hepatic stellate cells (Ito cells) and

myofibroblasts situated here. Biliary epithelial cells (BEC) have a regenerative response

different from hepatocytes. hz vivo, BEC respond to PH with a delay of about 24 hours.

In PHx animals, factors inducing a proliferative response of BEC include epidermal

growth factor, hepatocyte growth factor, somatostatin, bile acids and IL-6.

Based on the close anatomical and functional relationship, the formation of arteries

(arteriogenesis) during liver regeneration may go in parallel with the development of new

bile ducts, but relatively few data are available in this respect. An altered oxygen supply

may be a main driving force for this arteriogenetic response. As to the reconstitution of

venous epithelium, it has been shown that angiopoietin, vascular endothelial growth

factor (VEGF), and tubedown-1 (Tbdn-1 acetyltransferase) may play an essential role56 in

this process. VEGF is mainly expressed in the periportal (zone 1) hepatocytes. Following

a regenerative signal in the liver, VEGF expression in this area is increased by 48-72

hours after initiation of the response, and results in an augmentation of sinusoidal

endothelial cell proliferation." This reaction is accompanied by a burst of hepatocyte

proliferation within the same periportal zone, probably owing to sinusoid reconstruction









known to exert an influence on hepatocyte replication. Sinusoidal endothelial cells enter

DNA synthesis cycle at 48 to 72 hours after PHx, and exhibit very early changes of their

fenestration and porosity (open surface area) features. After an initial rise of porosity at 5

min post-PH, porosity gradually decreases by 72 hours, to augment again afterwards,

remaining elevated up to 14 days. The porosity nadir at 72 hours goes in parallel with the

initiation of DNA synthesis, compression of sinusoidal endothelial cells by proliferating

hepatocytes, and enveloping by hepatic stellate cells.' Two types of endothelial

progenitor cells take part in hepatic neoangiogenesis. Type A cells are vascular-derived

endothelial precursors, being present in large numbers, migrating to the tip of the

proliferating vessel, and exhibiting a short proliferative capacity. Type B cells derive

from the circulating hemangioblast, are bone marrow-derived, migrate to sites of

neoangiogenesis, occur in low numbers, and have a long-term proliferation potential.

After partial PHx, hepatocytes proliferate and form cell clusters of 10-14 cells.59

These clusters do not resemble normal liver architecture and are devoid of extracellular

matrix (ECM). Early changes in the composition of the hepatic extracellular matrix

modulate the cellular regenerative response. The formation of hepatocyte clusters with

desinusoidalisation and ECM loss may be related to the interaction between collagens

and cell adhesion molecule expression. Hepatic ECM remodeling is thought to be a

prerequisite process for hepatocyte proliferation in hepatic regeneration, involving

matrix-degrading proteases. PHx is followed by a dramatic increase of membrane-type

matrix metalloproteinase (MMP-14) and to a lesser extent of TIMP-1 (the MMP

inhibitor) expression, whereas other MMP and TIMP are not induced.60 This is thought to

be related to pericellular fibrinolysis or fibrolysis required for a distinct function of










regenerating hepatocytes, and also to the desinusoidalization process. There is a

relationship between induced hepatocyte proliferation and the expression of

metalloproteinases involved in hepatic remodeling. After hepatectomy, inactive matrix

metalloproteinases (pro-MMP-2 and pro-MMP-9) are elevated at 30 min already, and

activated at 6 to 12 hours and at 3 to 6 hours, respectively.61 TNFoc induces MMP-9

expression, but not MMP-2, and the increased hepatocyte proliferation is suppressed by

TIMP-1.

To restore normal tissue structure, stellate cells produce extracellular matrix about

4 days after partial hepatectomy, which re-establishes the connection between

hepatocytes and the sinusoidal epithelium. In rat livers after PHx, mature stellate cells

increase in number at day 7, i.e. much later than regenerating hepatocytes, but occur

together with proliferating hepatocytes forming clusters, i.e. in the phase of effacement of

the perisinusoidal space. In addition to stellate cells located to the perisinusoidal space of

Disse, stellate cells are situated in portal tracts, i.e. in an extralittoral compartment. These

cells are in close relationship to small bile ducts, and make part of the so-called periductal

sheath. Together with biliary ductules, this cell system may be operational as a

remodeling pacemaker.62,63

Stem Cell-aided Liver Regeneration

It is believed that stem cells participate in liver regeneration only when the ability

of hepatocytes to divide and replace damaged tissue is compromised. Stem cells within

adult liver are recognized as oval cells, which can be seen proliferating in many rodent

experimental models (Table 1 1) as well as human livers suffering from chronic

injuries. Oval cells are small in size (relative to hepatocytes) with ovoid nucleus and high









nuclear to cytoplasmic ratio. Oval cells are observed to originate in the region of terminal

bile duct within the periportal region, as liver damage progresses, they infiltrate into the

parenchyma along the bile canaliculi between the hepatic cords. As they migrate through

the parenchyma, oval cells proliferate rapidly, with labeling rates after pulse dose of 3H-

thymidine of 5-20% during peak proliferation.64 As oval cells proliferate, individual and

small group of small, highly basophilic hepatocytes typically appear among them, after

which the oval cells disappear and the parenchyma is graduately reconstructed.

Oval cells express different combinations of phenotypic markers from both the

hepatocyte and biliary lineage (Table 1 2), suggesting that the term 'oval cell' describes

a heterogeneous cell compartment (or oval cell compartment) containing cells that may

differ in their differentiation capacity and stage of differentiation. Some of these cells

may function as hepatocyte progenitors, whereas others may commit to biliary epithelial

lineage. Accordingly, oval cells are a multipotent cell population with the potential to

differentiate into hepatocytes and biliary epithelia.10,11

During fetal liver development, hepatoblasts positive for AFP and albumin give

rise to intrahepatic biliary epithelium, which is regarded as the embryologic counterparts

of oval cell.' In adult animal, the existence of an oval cell precursor population was

initially suggested when a population of oval like cells negative for the expression of

classical oval cell markers was found in the liver of 2AAF and/or allyl alcohol (AA)

treated mice.65 These cells began to express AFP after 2 days, possibly because of a

commitment to differentiate along the hepatocyte lineage and, accordingly, it was

assumed that oval cells were derived from progenitor cells located endogenously in the

liver. An examination of the 3-D relationship between CKl9-expressing cells in massive









necrosis implies that the characteristic ductular reaction observed is caused by the

proliferation of cells lining the canals of Hering, the junction between the hepatocyte

canalicular system and terminal bile ducts.66 Likewise, AAF-induced oval cells are

generated by the proliferation of terminal bile ducts, and they form structures

representing an extension of the canals of Hering.67 COnsidering the first cells undergoing

proliferation and differentiation into hepatocytes are found in this region, it is reasonable

to assume that the canals of Hering are the source of hepatic progenitor cells and their

direct progeny, the oval cell.

Another population of putative hepatic stem cells has been identified in developing

mouse liver, which possess multilineage differentiation potential and self-renewing

capability.68 These cells are CD49+, CD29+, c-Met+, c-kit-, CD45-, Terl l9-, and are

designated 'hepatic colony-forming-unit in culture' (HCFU-C). However, unlike oval

cells, they do not express hepatocyte or cholangiocyte specific markers and c-kit.69 CellS

derived from a single H-CFU-C expand in vitro and are capable of reconstituting

hepatocytic, bile-ductal, pancreatic and intestinal structures in vivo.68 Whether H-CFU-

C's exist in the adult liver is not known, nor is their relationship between hepatoblasts or

oval cells.

Some non-hepatic adult stem cells have also been postulated to participate in liver

regeneration under certain circumstance. One of these stem cells is hematopoietic stem

cells. Evidence of a cell lineage relationship between the hematopoietic system and the

hepatic oval cells is initially suggested by the Einding that classical hematopoietic

markers, including Thy-1, c-kit and CD34, are expressed on the surface of oval cellS.70-73

Additionally, bone marrow transplantation of purified c-kit +, Lin- and Sca-1+









hematopoietic stem cells rescued fumarylacetoacetate (FAH)-deficient mice, an animal

model of fatal hereditary tyrosinemia type 1.4 CTOss-gender, or cross-strain, bone marrow

and whole liver transplants in mice have identified cells in the bone marrow that are

capable of repopulating the liver.23 These results are supported by human studies using

archival liver biopsy specimens from recipients of cross-gender therapeutic bone marrow

transplants who later developed chronic liver damage due to recurrent disease. Analysis

for the presence of the Y chromosome in cells of liver biopsy specimens showed that

bone marrow-derived cells give rise to hepatocytes alone, or both hepatocytes and

cholangiocytes.74,75 However, there is disagreement on the extent of engraftment. Alison

et al. reported a relatively low frequency of Y-chromosome positive hepatocytes (0.5-

2%); whereas Theise et al. reported that, even in mild conditions, significant engraftment

(5-21% for hepatocytes and 4-18% for cholangiocytes) occurred; while in cases of

severe injury, up to 64% of periportal hepatocytes and 38% of cholangiocytes were donor

derived. 74, 75 Hence, hematopoietic cells are capable of migrating to the liver and

differentiating into hepatocytes in rodents and humans; however, dispute still exists about

whether the bone marrow-derived hepatocytes are the products of cell fusion or trans-

differentiation.

Other bone marrow cells have been shown to differentiate into hepatocytes in vitro,

although their role in liver regeneration remains unknown. Multipotent adult progenitor

cells (MAPC) are a unique population of adult stem cells that can be isolate from the

marrow of multiple mammalian species, including human, rat, and mouse. MAPCs are

generated in culture by plating nonhematopoietic adherent cells and serial passaging.

They are telomerase positive and grow stably in culture for many passages if kept at low









density. These cells have properties similar to embryonic stem cells in that they can be

differentiated toward many different lineages in vitro under the appropriate

conditions.76,77 These cell types include mesenchymal lineages such as muscle, cartilage,

and bone; neuroectodermal lineages such as different classes of neurons; and, endodermal

lineages such as hepatocytes. Human and murine MAPCs, grown in matrigel in the

presents of FGF-4 and HGF, changed their phenotype and expressed multiple hepatocyte

functions, including urea synthesis, albumin secretion, Phenobarbital-inducible

cytochrome p450 induction, and others. In addition, the cells morphologically appeared

hepatocytic and were frequently binucleated.7

Stem cell -aided liver regeneration is a highly regulated process involving

interactions of multiple cell lineages and signaling molecules. In response to

hepatocellular damage, the liver initiates an immune response. A complex array of

cytokines and chemokines were secreted most importantly by Kupffer cells and hepatic

stellate cells. Those cytokines may act in concert to direct the migration of oval cell or

bone marrow stem cell to the damaged area, to control the proliferation and

differentiation of stem cells and most likely regulate the remodeling of liver parenchyma.

An incomplete list of these cytokines may include HGF, TGF-a, acidic fibroblast growth

factor (aFGF), TNF, leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), stem cell factor (SCF), stromal

cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1), and IL-6 et al.

TNF is an important cytokine associated with oval cell-aided liver regeneration.

Inhibition of TNF by dexamethasone administration impairs the proliferation of hepatic

cell populations following 2-AAF/PHx, completely suppressing activation of the oval cell

compartment.79 Impaired oval cell proliferation has also been observed in TNF receptor 1









(TNFR1) knockout mice, suggesting that TNFR1 downstream signaling events are

required for maximal oval cell proliferation.so In addition, In vitro studies have shown

that TNF stimulates proliferation of the LE/6 murine oval cell line. These studies have

outlined the importance of the TNF family of ligands and receptors in the

activation/proliferation of oval cells. Although some TNF production can be attributed to

infiltrating inflammatory cells, the maj ority of hepatic TNF produced during liver

regeneration is Kupffer-cell derived. Depletion of Kupffer cells by treatment with

gadolinium chloride prior to bile duct ligation completely ablates oval cell induction, but

not ductular proliferation, suggesting that multiple cytokines produced by Kupffer cells

are crucial to the process.8

Similarly, oval cell number decreased in the liver of 2-AAF/PHx rat when IL-6

production was inhibited by dexamethasone. This suggests its involvement in the

activation of the oval cell compartment.79 However, comparison of the oval cell response

to cocaine induced periportal injury in normal and IL-6 -/- mice demonstrated increased

proliferation of periportal oval cells in IL-6 -/- mice, probably to compensate for the

decrease in restorative proliferation of hepatocytes, biliary epithelia and sinusoidal cells

in those animals.82 Ten days after injury, the liver was completely repaired in all mice,

indicating that IL-6 is not essential for oval cell proliferation. It is feasible that other

members of the IL-6 family, including leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and/or oncostatin

M (OSM), may compensate for the absence of IL-6 in these mice.83 Indeed, LIF is

increased and remains elevated during oval cell induction by 2 AAF/PH, suggesting that

it may have a role in the expansion and differentiation of the oval cell compartment.84

Additionally, in situ hybridization has demonstrated LIF, LIF receptor (LIFR) and









glycoprotein (gp)130 mRNA expression in oval cells, with weak expression in

parenchymal cells. Oncostatin M has recently been implicated in the maturation of fetal

hepatocytes in vitro and in vivo,s5 and it may have a similar role in the hepatic

differentiation of oval cells.

y-Interferon (IFN- y) is another inflammatory cytokine considered to play an

integral role in controlling stem cell-aided liver regeneration.86 Suppression subtractive

hybridization following 2-AAF/PH identified genes associated with the proliferation of

oval cells including IFN- y, IFN- y receptor a subunit (IFN- yRa), IFN-yR P primary

response genes (gp91phox), IFN-yR P secondary response genes such as ICE,

CD54/ICAM-1 and uPAR, cytokines that induce expression of IFN- y, which include

IL1-b and IL-18, and cell adhesion molecules that regulate the interactions between

lymphocytes and epithelial cells; lymphocyte function associated molecule 1-a (LFA-

l a/CD 11 and CD54/ ICAM-1). These proteins are all part of the complex cellular

response associated with the IFN-g signaling cascade. y-Interferon alone is not a hepatic

mitogen, however, it can act synergistically with other growth factors such as EGF.

Therefore, it has been suggested that interferon functions to prime certain cell

populations to respond to mitogenic stimuli.

Evarts et al have shown that hepatic stellate cell proliferation is closely associated

with oval cell proliferation. s7Hepatic stellate cells express hepatocyte growth factor

(HGF), acidic fibroblast growth factor (aFGF), transforming growth factor-a (TGFa), and

transforming growth factor-b (TGF- P). Interestingly, these cytokines have all been

identified in regenerating liver following PH. Although oval cells induced by 2-AAF/PH

do not express HGF, they express mRNA for the HGF receptor, c-met.88,89 High levels of









HGF mRNA are expressed by hepatic stellate cells proliferating in close proximity to

oval cells, suggesting that hepatic stellate cell-derived HGF may cause oval cell

proliferation via the paracrine activation of c-met.88 Furthermore, infusion of human

recombinant HGF into rats following 2-AAF treatment results in the expansion of several

liver cell populations, including the hepatic stellate cells and oval cells.90 Evidently, this

situation also occurs in humans, as elevated levels of serum HGF are present in

individuals with chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis,91-93 both conditions in which oval cell

proliferation is well documented.94,95

A marked increase of aFGF levels in the liver has been reported at the peak of oval

cell proliferation in the 2-AAF/PHx model, and levels greatly exceeded those observed

after PHx alone, suggesting a prominent role for aFGF in oval cell-aided liver

regeneration.89 High levels of TGF-a expression are observed not only in hepatic stellate

cells, but also in oval cells in the 2-AAF/PHx model.87,96 TGFu expression is detected in

oval cells and foci of oval cell-derived hepatocytes.97 In COntrast, TGF- P is implicated as

a negative regulator of oval cell activation. Transforming growth factor- pl expression on

smooth muscle actin (SMA)-positive hepatic stellate cells coincides with oval cell

proliferation in the 2-AAF/PHx model and correlates with maximal oval cell apoptosis.98

As TGF- pl is proposed to be a negative growth signal that controls liver size by the

induction of apoptosis during compensatory hyperplasia, it is possible that TGF- pl may

assist in the remodeling of liver parenchyma during oval cell-mediated liver regeneration

by terminating oval cell activation.98

The plasminogen activator and plasmin proteolytic cascades also have an important

function in stem cell-aided liver regeneration, which is always associated with changes in









the extracellular matrix. The plasminogen activator/plasmin system involves many

proteins including urokinase type plasminogen activator (uPA), tissue type plasminogen

activator (tPA), the uPA receptor (uPAR), and plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAl-

1).99 The upregulation of uPA mRNA has been observed during oval cell proliferation,

and infusion of uPA enhanced the mitogenic response of cells located near bile ducts

after the administration of 2-AAF. Expression of uPA, uPAR and PAl-1 is upregulated in

the 2-AAF/PHx model of oval cell induction, and localized to the ductal structures

formed by the oval cells.100 uPA expression was also detected in non-parenchymal cells

along the hepatic sinusoids. All these data suggest a significant role of plasminogen

activator/plasmin system in remodeling of liver parenchyma and migration of oval cells.

Stem cell factor (SCF) and its receptor, c-kit, play a fundamental role in survival,

proliferation, differentiation and migration of a variety of stem cells and may similarly

affect oval cells. Stem cell factor is induced early in the activation of oval cells by 2-

AAF/PHx, but this is not observed following PHx alone.101 Oval cell precursors express

both SCF and c-kit, suggesting that an autocrine mechanism may be involved, although

the precise role of this receptor-ligand system in liver regeneration is unclear. Oval cell

induction is significantly suppressed in Ws/Ws (white spotting on the skin) rats, in which

the c-kit receptor tyrosine kinase (KIT) activity is severely impaired,70 implying an

important role of SCF/c-kit interaction in oval cell activation.

Stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1) has also been thought to play a role in stem

cell-aided liver regeneration.102-10 SDF-1 is up regulated in the liver of oval cell

induction animal models but not in non-oval cell induction models. During oval cell

induction in the rat, SDF-1 is expressed in the hepatocytes, while the receptor CXCR4 is









seen on the surface of oval cells. hz vitro migration assay showed that oval cells

responded to SDF-1 gradient and migrated to a high concentration of SDF-1.102 These

data implied that SDF-1 may play a role in oval cell activation. A series of extensive

studies have been conducted to investigate the actual role of SDF-1/CXCR4 interaction in

stem cell-aided liver regeneration; and will be elaborated in the following chapters of this

manuscript.

Stromal Cell-Derived Factor 1

SDF-1 was initially cloned by signal sequence trap strategy to detect polypeptides

secreted from bone marrow stromal cells. 1os It is produced by multiple bone marrow

stromal cell types, such as osteoblasts, endothelium and adipocyteS,106-108 and by

epithelial cells in many organs, such as brain, thymus, heart, lung, liver, kidney, spleen,

stomach and intestine.105-10 It is also expressed during embryogenesis, for example in

brain, liver, heart and bone marrow spindle-shaped stromal cellS.109

SDF-1 belongs to CXC chemokine family. Its only known receptor CXCR4 is a

seven transmembrane G-protein coupled receptor that widely expressed by a variety of

cell types in developing embryo and adult organs such as brain, lung, heart, thymus,

lymph node, spleen mouse, bone marrow, stomach, small intestine, colon, liver and

ki dney. 110

SDF-1 was originally identified as a significant growth factor for pre-B cellS.106

Studies with knockout models revealed that murine embryos which lack SDF-1 or

CXCR4 have multiple defects which cause high degree of embryonic and perinatal

lethality. These mutant mice exhibit a lack of circulating B lymphocytes that is associated

with a severe reduction of their precursors in the liver and bone marrow, a defect in

myelopoiesis limited to the bone marrow compartment (although normal in the









extramedullary hematopoietic sites), while the developments of T cells and thymus

appear normal.109,111 transplantation of CXCR4 -/- fetal liver cells to irradiated wild-type

mice perform poorly in reconstitution of adult bone marrow B cell and myeloid

precursors.112,113 The decreased numbers of B cell and myeloid precursors in CXCR4-/-

fetal liver and reconstituted bone marrow are accompanied by the aberrant appearance of

the precursors in the bloodstream, indicating that CXCR4 is necessary for retention of

these progenitor cells within the fetal liver and bone marrow.112

These results demonstrate an essential role for SDF-1/CXCR4 axis in B cell

lymphopoiesis and myelopoiesis during embryonic development. In addition, SDF-

1/CXCR4 interaction has been implicated in homing of more primitive hematopoietic

progenitor cells (HPCs) to the bone marrow. Human CD34+ (multipotential) HPCs

express CXCR4 and migrate in response to SDF-1 in vitro,114,115 and pretreatment with

blocking antibodies against CXCR4 inhibited engraftment of human CD34+ HPCs in

NOD/SCID mice,116 COnsisting with a role in HPC recruitment to the bone marrow.

CD34+ cells migrating toward SDF-1 include cells with a primitive phenotype

(CD34+CD3 8+ and CD34+HLA-DR-) as well as CFU-mix (=CFU-GE1VMV), BFU-E,

and CFU-GM. HPC recruitment to the bone marrow is critical for engraftment in clinical

bone marrow transplantation and may also be important during embryogenesis when

hematopoiesis moves from the fetal liver to the bone marrow. SDF-1 expression can be

detected in murine fetal liver as early as embryonic day E10.5-E12.5, the period of fetal

liver colonization by HPCs; SDF-1 falls off sharply as HPCs begin to emigrate from the

liver to the bone marrow (E14.5). "7 On the other hand, mobilization of HPCs from bone

marrow to peripheral circulation is also partially controlled through SDF-1/CXCR4









interaction. Elevation of SDF-1 level in the serum or disruption of the CXCR4 function

by its antagonist induce mobilization of HPCs.118,119 These findings indicate that

SDF-1/CXCR4 axis not only influence the efficiency of stem cell engraftment into the

bone marrow but also modulate the mobilization of the stem cells from bone marrow to

peripheral blood.

Beisdes the defect in lymphopoiesis, the SDF-1/CXCR4-deleted mice also display

defects in the development of heart, large vessel, gonad and cerebellum.1l09,111,120 These

facts suggest that SDF-1/CXCR4 axis may play more general role during organogenesis.

Indeed, a whole body of evidence has accumulated that functional

CXCR4 is also expressed on the surface of several tissue committed

stem/progenitor cells such as primordial germ cells,120 Skeletal muscle satellite progenitor

cells,121 neural stem cells,122 retinal pigment epithelium progenitors.123 Finally, we

recently found that functional CXCR4 is also expressed on rat hepatic oval cellS.102

Furthermore, CXCR4 ligand, SDF-1 is expressed/secreted by several tissue/organs not

only during organogenesis but also in responding to tissue damage. Based on these

observations, it is possible that SDF-1/CXCR4 axis also regulate tissue regeneration by

tissue-committed stem cells. Although the role of SDF-1/CXCR4 interaction in these

processes is not fully elucidated, compelling evidences suggest that the mechanisms for

SDF-1 function may include enhancing the survival, proliferation, motility, adhesion,

chemotaxis, and secretion of certain factors in the target cells bearing the receptor

CXCR4. All of these effects result from the activation of several crucial signaling

pathway elicited by SDF-1/CXCR4 interaction on the target cells.









Binding of SDF-1 to CXCR4 triggers the association of the latter with Goci protein

and subsequent signaling cascade. The most important pathways include activation of

calcium flux, focal adhesion components, such as proline-rich kinase-2 (Pyk-2), pl30Cas,

focal adhesion kinase, paxilin, Crk and Crk-L, protein kinase C, phospholipase C-7

(PKC-7I) as well as MAPK p42/44-ELK-1 and PI-3K-AKT-NF-icB axes.124-128 Strong

phosphorylation of focal adhesion components and MAPK p42/44 and serine-threonine

kinase AKT is observed within seconds after CXCR4 activation.129 CXCR4 signalling

also involves several src-related kinases and T-cell activating molecule ZAP-70.130 JAK2

and JAK3124 and Tyk-2131 may also associate in some cell types with CXCR4 and are

activated, probably by transphosphorylation, in a Gai-independent manner. As a

consequence of this several members of the STAT family of transcription factors may

become recruited and phosphorylated. However, involvement of STAT proteins in

signaling from activated CXCR4 may depend on the cell type. For example, while STAT

2 and 4 but not STAT 1, 3, 5 and 6 become activated in the haematopoietic CTS

progenitor cell line,132 STAT 1, 2, 3 and 5 but not STAT 4 or 6 become activated in

MOLT4 cells.131

SDF-1 induced cell mobility and chemotaxis are associated with PI-3K-AKT axis,

which regulated rearrangement of F-actin in the leading edge of the migrating target cells.

The migration of normal hematopoietic cells is inhibited by employing LY290042, a

specific inhibitor of PI3 -kinase.133 The role of the PI-3K-AKT pathway in cell motility is

further supported by the observation that murine cells with a disruption of a single gene

encoding PTEN phosphatasee and tension homologue), a negative regulator of AKT

phosphorylation/activation, show enhanced phosphorylation of AKT, and as a result









enhanced chemotaxis to SDF-1.134 SDF-1- mediated cell motility and chemotaxis,

however, is affected by several other signaling events probably involving MAPK p42/44

and phosphatases.135

The activation of PI-3K- AKT pathway by SDF-1/CXCR4 interaction also leads to

the activation of NFicB which in turn induces cell secretion of MMPs (e.g., MMP-2 and

MMP-9), nitric oxide and some angiopoietic factors such as VEGF.136,137 These factors

secreted by target cells may play an important role in remodeling of extracellular matrix

and facilitating angiogenesis indispensable for tissue repairing and even tumor

metastasis.

It is known that SDF-1 modulates adhesion of cells to fibrinogen, fibronectin,

stroma and endothelial cells.116,129,136,138 This pro-adhesive effect of SDF-1 is mediated by

the activation of various adhesion molecules (e.g., integrins) on the surface of target cells

rather than by increasing their de novo expression on the cell surface. 116,136 The integrins

activated by SDF-1 include LFA-1 (lymphocyte function associated antigen-1), VLA-4

(very late activation antigen-4) and VLA-5 (very late activation antigen-5).116 SDF-1

induced firm adhesion and transendothelial migration in human CD34+ haematopoietic

cells through LFA-1/ICAM-1 intracellularr adhesion molecule-1) and VLA-4/VCAM-1

(VLA-4/vascular adhesion molecule-1) interactions. These interactions were inhibited by

pertussis toxin and cytochalasin D, indicating the involvement of Gai protein

downstream signalling and the requirement of an intact cytoskeleton.1 16,136

The effect of SDF-1 on cell proliferation and survival remains controversial. It has

been shown in some experimental conditions that SDF-1 can stimulate the proliferation

and survival of haematopoietic cells, and the pro-survival effect of SDF-1 on purified









CD34+ CD3 8+ bone marrow mononuclear cells was PI-3K-AKT axis dependent.139-141 1

their studies, Zhou and Bonavia found that SDF-1 can also stimulate the proliferation and

survival of astrocytes and some tumour cell lines.142,143 The proliferation effect of SDF-1

on astrocytes was MAPK p42/44 dependent because it is sensitive to inhibition by

PD98059, an inhibitor of MEK kinase -the activator of MAPK p42/44.143 SDF-1 was

found to be a survival factor for glioma and glioblastoma cells. This effect correlated

with a prolonged activation of the pro-survival kinases AKT and MAPK p42/44.142,143

However, several other tumour cell lines did not respond by proliferation or increased

survival to stimulation by SDF-1. However, according to Majka and Kijowski, SDF-1 did

not affect the proliferation/survival of certain cells of hematopoietic lineage such as

human CD34+ stem/progenitor cells, erythroblasts, megakaryoblasts, myeloid cells and

T-, B-lymphoid cell lines, although it induced the phosphorylation of MAPK p42/44 and

AKT.136,145 These data suggest that in addition to MAPK p42/44 and AKT, other

complementary pathways also had to be activated simultaneously in the target cells in

order to increase their proliferation/survival .

The activity of SDF-1/CXCR4 axis is modulated by several external factors. The

N-terminus of CXCR4 and the first extracellular loop are crucial for SDF-1. Thus

enzymatic cleavage of CXCR4 N-terminus by the leucocyte-derived proteases inhibits

CXCR4 signaling. The proteases released from activated leucocytesmay also cleave

SDF-1 and negatively regulate SDF-1 activity. In addition, SDF-1 may also be

N-terminally truncated by cell surface expressed CD26/dipeptidylpeptidase IV, and as a

result, the truncated SDF-1 does not possess chemotactic activity and may act even as an

antagonist of CXCR4. Furthermore, it has been reported that CXCR4 signaling may also









be desensitized in B- and T-lymphocytes by MIP-la or RANTES which activate another

G-protein-coupled chemokine receptor CCR5.146,147 The molecular mechanism of this

cross-desensitization between chemokine receptors is unclear, but it is likely that it

involves regulators of G-protein signalling (RGS) proteins.

Recently several molecules had been identified that may increase the

sensitivity/responsiveness of CXCR4+ cells to SDF-1. These molecules include

inflammation factors such as anaphylatoxin C3a, uPAR, thrombin, hylauronic acid,

platelet-derived microvesicles and ECM components such as fibronectin, fibrinogen and

VCAM-1. They were found to significantly increase the chemotaxis of haematopoietic

cells to low/threshold doses of SDF-1.148-151

In conclusion, the SDF-1-CXCR4 axis is an important player during organogenesis

and tissue regeneration. One of the maj or effects of this important signal is to direct the

migration of stem/progenitor cells including hepatic oval cells. The present study is

focused on the involvement of SDF-1/CXCR4 axis in stem cell-aided liver regeneration.





Marker oval cells hepatocytes biliary duct epithelium
Albumin + + +
co-fetoprotein (AFP) + fetal only
xn-GST + fetal only +
cytokeratin 8 (CK8) + + +
cytokeratin 14 (CKl4) + (human)
cytokeratin 18 (CKl8) + + +
cytokeratin 19 (CKl9) + (rat, human) -+
OV6 + (rat, human) -+
OC.2 + (rat) -+ (rat)
A6 + (mouse) -+ (mouse)


Table 1-1. Rodent models of oval cell induction


Treatment


Reference


Azodyes (AZD)
2-actylaminofluorene and partial hepatectomy (2-AAF/PH)
Galactosamine
Choline deficient, ethionine supplemented (CDE) diet
Diethylnitrrosamine (DEN)
Retrosine and partial hepatoectomy
Mouse
Dipin
3,5, -Diethoxycarbonyyl- 1,4-dihydrocollidine (DDC)
Phenobarbital, cocaine and partial hepatectomy


Table 1-2. Liver cell lineage markers















CHAPTER 2
EXPRESSION OF SDF-1 DURING OVAL CELL ACTIVATION

Introduction

Hepatic oval "stem" cells are recognized as playing an important role in the

etiology of liver growth and development, as well as in hepatic carcinogenesiS. 10,152-154

Initiation of hepatic oval cells is necessary when a severe liver necro-inflammatory insult

cannot be corrected through replication of mature hepatocytes. The signals) triggering

oval cell participation in the regenerative process is still unknown. A key assumption to

oval cell research to date has been that the oval cells are native to the liver. This approach

may be only partly representative of a wide range of regenerative responses responsible

for reconstituting the hepatic mass. For instance, we now know that hepatocytes and bile

duct ep-ithelium can also be extra-hepatic derived from bone marrow.2-4,74,75 What is

unknown, however, is how bone marrow-derived cells, presumably "stem" cells, migrate

and trans-differentiate into hepatocytes and bile duct epithelial cells. For this to happen,

two events must occur: (i) the mobilization of precursor cells residing in the bone

marrow, and (ii) the homing and engrafting of precursor cells into the regenerating liver.

Cytokines or other humoral agents, released into the blood circulation by the injured

liver, could very well promote the first event and determine its magnitude. The same or

similar agents, along with the extent of liver lobular architectural disruption created by

the injury, could affect the efficiency of the second event.

We set out to identify a possible mechanism for oval cell activation in the injured

liver. During embryogenesis the liver develops from a diverticulum of the floor of the









foregut,6,155,156 where the founder cells invade the mesenchyme of the septum

transversum. Endodermal cells eventually give rise to hepatocytes and the bile duct

epithelial cells, while the mesenchyme gives rise to cells that make up the sinusoidal

lining. During fetal development, the liver functions as the hematopoietic organ.15~5

The hematopoietic cells found in the developing liver are of extra-hepatic origin, being

derived from stem cells of the yolk sacl59,160 and the aorta-gonad-mesonephros (AGM).161

Recruitment of the extra-hepatic cells to the embryonic liver is required for proper

development, but the signals required by which HSCs respond and the mechanism of

their movement within the fetus is not totally understood. It has been suggested that this

movement could be controlled through the SDF-1/CXCR4 homing interaction between

the hematopoietic and stromal cells.162,163 The importance of SDF-la and CXCR4 in

hematopoiesis is supported by observations of embryonic lethality in knockout mice with

targeted disruption of the genes for either SDF-1 109 Or its receptor CXCR4.111,113,164 The

expression of CXCR4 on a maj ority of the CD-34 positive and negative cells and a

demonstrated role of SDF-la-inducing chemotaxis in these cells strongly suggests that

the most primitive hematopoietic population including stem cells is responsive to a SDF-

1 chemotactic gradient.16516 To date, several reports have shown hepatic oval cells and

HSCs share a similar immunohistochemical profile, being positive for Thy-1, CD-34 and

c-Kit.71,72,101,168 In addition, the findings of Lagasse et al. (2000) demonstrated that it was

indeed the Sca /Thylo/kit //ln sub-population of the bone marrow cells that was capable

of becoming hepatic tissue.4

Using various types of rat liver regeneration models, normal (non-oval cell-aided

[i.e. allyl alcohol, AA and CCl4]) and oval cell-aided models (i.e., 2-acetylaminofluorene










(2-AAF)/CCl4, 2-AAF/PHx and 2-AAF/AA),72,168 we tested whether or not SDF-1

protein regulation was affected in a positive or negative manner. Western

immunoblotting was used to determine if the type of liver regeneration model affected

SDF-1 protein regulation. In addition, immunohistochemistry for SDF-1 was performed

on rat liver sections to determine what cell type, if any expresses the protein. Also,

immunohistochemistry for CXCR4 expression was performed on sorted cells to

determine if oval cells expressed the only known receptor for SDF-1. The results

described herein show that, when oval cells are involved in the regenerative process,

SDF-1 is up-regulated during the oval cell proliferation process. However, under normal,

non-oval cells-aided regeneration, SDF-1 protein expression was not detected. In the

former condition, it was found that the oval cells express the SDF-1 receptor, CXCR4,

while SDF-1 was expressed by the liver parenchyma. These data indicate a possible

mechanism by which oval cells are activated in the injured liver.

Materials and Methods

Materials and Subjects

Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), 99% pure HPLC grade and 2-acetylaminofluorene (2-

AAF) were purchased from Aldrich Chemical Co. (St. Louis, MO). 2-AAF crystals were

incorporated into time released pellets (70 mg/pellet over 28-day release, 25. mg/day) by

Innovative Research Inc. (Sarasota, FL). Male Fischer 344 rats (150-170 g) were

obtained from Fredericks Laboratories (Frederick, MD). Microscope Superfrost Plus

slides and buffered Formalin-Fresh were obtained from Fisher Scientific (Pittsburgh,

PA). Iscoves Media was obtained from Invitrogen Corporation (Carlsbad, CA). Unless

otherwise stated, all other chemicals were purchased from Sigma (St. Louis, MO). All

animal protocols have been approved by the University of Florida Animal Care and









Usage Committee and were conducted within those guidelines. SDF-la antibody and

protein was purchased from R&D Systems Inc. (Minneapolis, MN) and CXCR4 antibody

was bought from Santa Cruz Biotechnology Inc. (Santa Cruz, CA). Thy-1 antibody was

obtained from BD Pharmigen (San Diego, CA). Secondary antibodies (Vector Blue and

DAB Peroxidase) were purchased from Vector Laboratories (Burlingame, CA).

Liver Regeneration Models

The basic design of the liver injury alone and the 2-AAF/Injury models have been

described previously.169 170 Briefly, a 2-AAF pellet (70 mg/28 day release, 2.5 mg/day)

was inserted subcutaneously 7 days prior to induction of hepatic injury by protocols

similar to those described by Novikoff et al. (1996) and Hixson et al. (1990).171 172

Normal rat liver was used as a zero time control. For the chemically induced liver injury,

a single LD50 dose of AA (37 mg/kg body weight) was administered by intra-peritoneal

(i.p.) inj section of a 1:50 dilution (vol/vol) in 0.9% saline solution, or a single LD50 dose

of CCl4 (1,500 mg/kg) was administered i.p as a 1:1 (vol/vol) dilution in corn oil. Partial

hepatectomies (PHx; 70%) were performed as described by Higgins and Anderson

(1931).12

Protein Preparation and Western Blot Analysis

The protocol for protein preparation is fully described by Kim et al. (1997).173

Briefly, total liver lysates were prepared by homogenizing livers of rats subj ected to

either normal (non oval cell) or oval cell aided regeneration protocols with 10 mM Tris-

HCI (pH 7.6) containing 1% sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) in the presence of 100 mg/mL

bovine serum albumin, 5 mM Na2-ethylenediamineatatraacetic acid (EDTA), 0.1 mM

sodium 0-vanadate, 1 mM phenylmethylsufonyl fluoride, fluoride, 50 mM sodium

fluoride, 30 mM sodium pyrophosphate decahydrate (PPl), 10 mg/mL pepstain, 5 mg/mL









trans-Epoxysuccinyl-L-leucylamido-( 4-guanidino) butane (E64), 10 mg/mL aprotinin,

and 50 mM 1,10O-phenanthroline. Insoluble material was removed by centrifugation at

14,000g before assaying for protein concentration.

For the crude soluble and insoluble fractions, the liver tissue from rats subj ected to

the above mentioned liver regeneration protocols were isolated at the indicated time

points (n=3-6) and then homogenized with 10 mM Tris-HCI (pH 7.6), 5 mg/mL

E64 1 4 mM diisopropylphosphate, 10 mg/mL each of proteinase inhibitors pepstain and

leupepin, 1 mM Na3VO4, and 1 mM EDTA. To prepare the insoluble- and soluble-

enriched fractions, the homogenates were centrifuged at 15,000g for 3 h at 40C. The

crude soluble and insoluble fractions or whole lysate (5 mg protein) were mixed equal

volumes of SDS sample load-ing buffer and separated by 8-18% gradient SDS-

polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis gels in the presence of 2-mercaptoethanol as

described by Laemmli et al. (1970).174 Proteins were electrotransferred onto Immun-Blot

PVDF membrane (BioRad, Hercules, CA), membranes were then blocked with 2%

bovine serum albumin (Boehringer Mannheim) for 1-2 h at room temperature (RT) or

overnight at 40C, followed by incubation with primary antibody, Biotinylated

Anti-SDF-la/PBSF, in 1 3 TBST for 2-3 h at RT. The membrane was washed with

1 3 TBST for 30 min at RT with a minimum of three wash changes, then incubated with

Strepavidin-Peroxidase Polymer Labeled (Sigma, S9420) for 1 h at RT. The membranes

were then washed with 1 3 TBST for approximately 10 min with three changes of wash,

the first being a quick rinse of the membrane and the others lasting from 3 to 7 min at RT.

After the rinse, the membrane was incubated with ECL1Plus solution (Amersham,









Arlington Heights, IL) according to the protocol provided by the company.

Chemiluminescence was detected using x-ray film (LPS, Rochester, NY).

Immunohistochemistry

A basic immunohistochemical protocol previously described by Michalopoulos

et al. (1999) was used with slight modification to conform to each particular antibody.m7

SDF-1 was used at a dilution of 1:10. While immunohistochemistry for CXCR4 was

carried out using a 1:25 dilution. Secondary anti- bodies were used at 1:100 dilution.

Liver tissue was divided and fixed in either 10% buffered formalin or placed in OTC

compound and frozen in cold 2-Methylbutane (Fisher Scientific, Pittsburgh), then stored

at 2800C until needed. All staining procedures for light microscopy were carried out on

6-mm-thick frozen sections or 4-mm-thick paraffin sections. Routine histological

examinations were made for all liver tissue samples on sections (paraffin and frozen)

stained with hematoxylin and eosin. Single cells suspensions were collected on glass

slides by cytocentrifugation and air-dried. Cytocentrifugation was done using a Cytospin

3 Cytocentrifuge (Shandon Inc, Pittsburgh) 6 min at 600 rpms. Immunohistochemistry on

cytospin preparations (100,000 cells/slide) was performed using the techniques described

above. For each antibody negative controls were performed by either blocking with

appropriate non-immune serum or by omitting the primary antibody from the protocol.

Migration Studies

Primary Thy-1+ hepatic oval cells were isolated as previously described by Petersen

et al. (1998a).72 Motogentic assays were performed on polycarbonate membrane 5-mm

pore size tissue culture-treated Transwell inserts (Costar, Cambridge, MA). Cells were

plated at high density (100,000/mL) for 2 h in serum free Iscoves media supplemented

with gentamycin (50 mg/mL) and insulin (1 X 10-7 mol/L). After 2 h, cells were









stimulated with SDF-1 protein (100 ng/mL), either adding it to the bottom chamber or to

the top chamber or in both chambers. Time points of 4 and 6 h post SDF-1 exposure were

examined for cell migrations through the membrane (n=3/time point). As a control, cells

were treated in the same manner with the exception that no SDF-1 was introduced to the

medium. Cells on inserts were fixed and stained as previously described. The cells that

attached to the top of the membrane were completely removed by rubbing with a cotton-

tipped applicator after the staining. Cell debris was washed away using 1% PBS. Cells

that had migrated through to the bottom of the membrane were counted and compared to

wells that did not receive SDF-1 exposure. Data obtained was subj ected to Student' s t test

to generate ap value to show significance.

Results

SDF-1 Protein Expression in Various Liver Regeneration Models

We have previously shown that oval cells do not play an important role in normal

liver regeneration brought on by CCl4 pOisoningivo or PHx156. In addition, we have also

shown that, to fully activate the hepatic oval cells to proliferate, an inhibitory factor, such

as 2-AAF, must be involved.169 17 Protein lysate from liver were obtained from rats

exposed to acute dose of CCl4 (alOne) and 2-AAF/CCl4 at various time points following

hepatic injury. In order to study liver regeneration in these two models, different sets of

time points were used. Compensatory regeneration (i.e., PHx, CCl4) is completed within

120 h post-injury; therefore, it is necessary to use early time points during the

regenerative process. Subsequently, hours were used instead of days, whereas in oval

cell-aided regeneration, it is necessary to use time points in days based upon the fact that

the peak of oval cell proliferation is reported to be around day 9 post-hepatic injury.170 If

SDF-1 were to play a role in the normal liver regeneration process, one would assume









that the SDF-1 protein would be up regulated at some point during the process. As seen

in Figure 2 1A, no protein was detected at any time during the normal repair process.

However, when the hepatocytes have been exposed to 2-AAF followed by CCl4 injury, a

band for SDF-1 can be observed as early as day 1 and continues until day 13 post-hepatic

injury (Fig. 2 IB). The day-13 time point has been reported to show the differentiation

of oval cells to hepatocytes.170

To further characterize these results, we separated liver lysates into crude soluble

and insoluble fractions. SDF-1 has been reported to be associated with membrane bound

proteins, including integrins to direct stem cells to specific sites within the body,176 W

performed Western immunoblotting on the membrane fraction of these two different

hepatic injury models (Fig. 2 2). Again, in the acute CCl4 injury model (Fig. 2 2A),

no signal can be seen, indicating that SDF-1 is not involved in liver regeneration under

these circumstances. As seen in the oval cell model of 2AAF/CCl4 (Fig. 2 2B), the

protein is highly up-regulated, confirming our results seen in Figure 2 1. Because SDF-

1 is associated with the membrane and the total lysate was fractionated, this may explain

why there is such a difference between Figures 2 1 and 2 2. The inflammatory

response brought about by CCl4 pOisoning could possibly account for the more active

oval cell proliferation observed in the 2-AAF/CCl4 mOdel than that seen the 2-AAF/

PHx model.

Liver injury induced by PHx has been shown to up-regulate similar chemokines as

CCl4177 but does not elicit an inflammatory response. We have previously shown that in

the 2AAF/PHx model there appears to be a less pronounced activation of oval cell

proliferation, at least by histological technique.170 To confirm the 2AAF/CCl4 TOSults, we









examined SDF-1 protein expression in another oval cell model, 2AAF/PHx. As seen in

Figure 2-3C, the 2AAF/PHx models exhibit SDF-1 expression. Although expression

appears to be not as intense as the 2AAF/CCl4 mOdel it too appears to exhibit the same

pattern of expression.

In the 2AAF/PHx model at about day 13 post-hepatic injury, it appears that the

protein is down-regulated. This is the time that oval cells have been reported to begin

their differentiation into hepatocytes.s7, no0 Figure 2-3C confirms the data seen in

Figures2-1B and 2-2B, showing that SDF-1 is up-regulated when oval cells are

present in the regenerating liver. If SDF-1 were involved in the inflammatory response,

the protein would have been observed in the acute CCl4-Or AA-alone models, but this

was not the case. In addition, because 2AAF/PHx model does not induce an

inflammatory response, but does induce an oval cell response as well as expression of the

SDF-1 protein, this provides a second model to link the SDF-1 protein to oval cell

activation pathway.

Immunohistochemistry for SDF-1 a and CXCR4

Figure 2-4 represents immunohistochemistry of SDF-1 on liver tissue sections

from both oval cell aided regeneration models (2AAF/CCl4 and 2AAF/PHx). As shown

in Figure 2-4A, there appears to be a slight staining pattern of SDF-1 in the normal

liver. As seen in low power magnifieation Hields, the 2AAF/CCl4 and 2AAF/PHx

(Fig. 2-4C,D), respectively, the staining for SDF-1 was on hepatocytes that appeared to be

closest to the proliferating oval cells. At higher magnifieation the individual hepatocytes

can be seen staining positive for SDF-1 (Fig. 2-4E,F). It may also appear that the level

of expression may depend upon the type of damage (inflammatory, C and E; or non-









inflammatory, D and F). The immunohistochemistry does support our Western analysis.

The fact that SDF-1 is up regulated further goes to supporting the concept that oval cells

could be activated or recruited to an injured liver in response to a chemotactic gradient. It

should be noted that the staining patterns we show appears to be consistent in staining

described by Pablos et al. (1999).17

In order to complete the pathway for SDF-1, its receptor must also be involved.

Figure 2-5 represents immunohistochemistry of CXCR4 on tissue sections from both

models of oval cell-aided regeneration (2-AAF/CCl4 and 2-AAF/PHx). Little to no

staining can be seen in normal rat liver (Fig. 2-5A). As seen in the photomicrographs

only the oval cells appear to be expressing the receptor (Fig. 2-5C, D).

We have previously shown that oval cells express the hematopoietic stem cell

marker Thy-1 and through cell sorting techniques we can obtain a highly purified

population of Thy-1+ oval cells. In addition, we have previously reported this isolated

population of cells to be lineage negative as well, meaning they do not express markers

that would define them to be committed toward a specific lineage.72 Thy-1-FITC labeled

sorted cells were cytocentrifugated (Fig. 2-5G green) on to microscope slides and

stained for CXCR4-Texas Red the receptor for SDF-1 (Fig. 2-5E, red). As seen in

Figure 2-5F, the merged image (yellow) reveals that the oval cells do indeed express the

receptor indicating a possible protein-receptor interaction pathway for

activation/recruitment of oval cells in the injured liver.

Previously we have reported that the 2AAF/AA model produces a small oval cell

response.17 In order to determine whether or not the results in Figure 2-3A, B were









credible, we performed immunohistochemistry on liver section obtained from 2AAF/AA

exposed rats.

As seen in Figure 2-6A, there was little to no staining observed on the

hepatocytes. This would appear to confirm our protein results. However, there were a few

clusters of smaller cells in close proximity to the proliferating oval cells that were

positive for SDF-1. These smaller cells could be stellate cells or fibroblast cell found in

the liver. In contrast to the 2-AAF/PHx and 2AAF/CCl4 mOdels, where the oval cells

stained positive for CXCR4, the 2AAF/AA oval cells were negative for CXCR4

(Fig. 2-6B,C). This may suggest there may be a significant difference between the different

types of oval cell proliferation models. Immunohistochemistry was also performed on

liver section obtained from acute AA exposed rat. Figure 2-6D reveals that, even in

areas where high levels of damage are seen with an inflammatory response, there was

little evidence of staining observed. Again, this may suggest that it takes more that just

injury to induce the SDF-1/CXCR4 pathway.

To test if oval cells respond to the chemotractant ability of SDF-1 has been

reported to exert on stem cells, experiments were designed in such a way to show the

specificity of the oval cells to migrate to a gradient of higher concentration of SDF-1.

Figure 2-7 represents the ability of oval cells to migrate to the area where there is a

higher concentration of SDF-1. When SDF-1 was placed in the bottom chamber of the

culture system, there was an approximately 11i-fold increase in the number of cells that

migrated through the membrane as compared to controls. However, to illustrate that the

homing effect was due to motility and not from chemokinesis, SDF-1 was placed in the

top chamber or in both chambers (top and bottom) to determine if oval cells would still










migrate through the membrane. As shown in Figure 2-7, there was some movement of

oval cells as compared to controls, but the fold increase was negligible in both conditions.

When the data was subj ected to a Student' s t test, ap value equaling 0.00964 was

obtained for the 4-h time point with a similar p value for the 6-h time point.

Disscusion

In recent years there has been an increasing body of evidence supporting the

concept that adult stem cells have a far greater degree of plasticity than once thought.

Bone marrow associated stem cells have been able to produce endothelial, mesenchymal

and epithelial cell types found in the body.2,179,180 Neural stem cells have been shown to

be capable of differentiating into blood cells and then back to brain cells.ls In addition,

brain stem cells have been shown to produce an entire mammalian system (mouse).182

These studies were conducted in rodent models, and only suggest that adult stem cells

may be exploited to treat dysfunction found in the body. Theise et al. (2000) and Alison

et al. (2000) both reported74,75 that human adult bone marrow stem cells could

differentiate into mature hepatocytes, thereby providing a link from animal studies to

human studies, and proof of concept, which may lead to clinical applications in the near

future. The next critical step is to utilize the rodent liver to dissect the mechanisms

regulating oval cell activation and/or the bone marrow to liver migration process.

HSCs and progenitor cells can be found throughout the entire body, mainly within

the bone marrow of an adult, but they are also present in a number of different organs.

For instance a lethally irradiated animal can be rescued and have its bone marrow

reconstituted through liver transplant.183 Stem cells and progenitors traffic to different

organs during embryonic and fetal development and can move from organ to organ









during adult life, especially during times of stress- and injury-induced states such as

during infection.166,167 There are over 50 different chemokines, most of which have

suppressive functions in HSC proliferation.166 Such redundancy is a phenomenon found

throughout nature and in many biological systems, but the chemokine system appears

more prone to have back-ups to back-ups. Perhaps this redundancy is the means by which

HSC proliferation is kept in balance in organs in which proliferation is not needed or

warranted during steady-state functions such as normal liver regeneration.

The movement or homing of cells to organs also needs integrin-mediated adhesion

to the ECM components like fibronectin. This adhesion can be activated by certain

cytokines such as stem cell factor (SCF).166 It is also reported that SDF-1 is constitutively

expressed in most maj or solid organs found in the body (i.e. brain, liver, pancreas, lung,

heart, kidney, and spleen) as well as the bone marrow and the surrounding cells of the

germinal center.166 Also, there is only one known receptor for SDF-la, which is CXCR4.

It also was found that CD-34- cells had a higher expression of CXCR4 (77%) than CD-

34+ population, which were only (61%),184 pOssibly indicating that CD-34- cells are

more primitive than CD-34+ cells. With the results from LaGasse et al. (2000), indicating

that a population of bone marrow stem cells with a Sca-1+/Thy-110o/kit+/Lin-/CD-34-

phenotype are the cell type within the bone marrow capable of differentiating into

hepatocytes.4 In addition, there are recent reports showing that mutlipoten adult

progenitor cell (MAPC) of mesenchymal lineage could trans-differentiate into

hepatocytes both in vivo and in vitro.76,78

To speculate and place into context a number of different reported events that occur

in the liver during the oval cell-aided regeneration process, we suggest the following









scenario. SDF-1 is produced in the liver, which then activates oval cells to proliferate. As

the progenitor cells enter the liver lobule they come in contact with adhesion molecules

like fibronectin. It has been reported that there is an increase in soluble fibronectin, an

ECM molecule that would facilitate their engraftment. "' The expansion in the number of

stellate cells that occurs in the periportal regions of the liverl86 WOuld next result in an

increased production of the growth factors such as hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and

transforming growth factor-alpha (TGFa).ls~s At the same time HGF and TGFa are

being up regulated, transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-bl) is also being up-regulated

by the expanding Kupffer and stellate cell population.189,19 In Order for stem cells to

differentiate down the hepatic lineage, the differentiation of HSC down the hematopoietic

lineage would have to be blocked. TGF-b1 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFa) have

been shown to suppress the differentiation of progenitor HSCs into megakaryocytes and

down the myeloid lineage.191,192 In addition; HGF would act as strong promoter of

differentiation toward the hepatic lineage.'" Both oval cells and HSCs express the HGF

receptor c-Met.193 In addition, stores of HGF and epidermal growth factor (EGF) in the

periportal region of the liverl94 can be released from the ECM by an up regulation of

uPA.100 Thus, the necessary contributors to the processes of homing, engrafting and

differentiation would be in the right place at the right time to signal to the oval cell of its

final fate in the liver. These factors could be the signals, plus, as of yet undetermined

signals, which oval cells need to begin to differentiate down the hepatic lineage. In a

recent study, Muller et al. (2001) showed that the CXCR4 is highly expressed in human

breast cancer cells and metastases. In addition, they reported that SDF-la exhibited peak

levels of expression in organs representing the first destination of breast cancer









metastasis.195 Their study showed that chemokines and their receptors have a critical role

in the movement of breast cancer metastasis.

The SDF l/CXCR4 interaction is fairly unique, meaning that CXCR4 is the only

known receptor for SDF-1 and because of its specificity and its location throughout the

body it makes this protein- receptor interaction a good candidate for homing bone

marrow derived cells to various sites of injury. This interaction could also be viewed as a

signal to initiate the oval cell compartment in certain forms of liver regeneration. Our

data begins to shed light on a possible mechanism for oval cell activation and a possible

signal, which could aid in the recruitment of bone marrow derived stem cells to the liver

as a second wave of cells enter the injured organ. This may someday lead to a better

understanding of the hepatic and hematopoietic interaction in oval cell activation and

proliferation. This may in turn lead to better clinical relevance in treating patients through

stem cell therapies, but further experiments will need to be performed.














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Figure 2-1. Western blot analysis on whole cell lysate obtained from male Fisher 344
rats treated with CCl4 A) and 2AAF/CCl4 B), with 5mg of protein loaded in
each well. Note there is expression of SDF-1 in the 2-AAF/CCl4 model in B,
whereas there is no expression in the acute model. Actin bands are shown to
provide a reference to loading consistency. Protein was pooled from n= 3-6
samples per time point.


Acute CC11
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Figure 2-2. Western blot analysis for SDF-la on crude insoluble extracts from both CCl4
A) and oval cell B) aided model. 5 mg of protein loaded in each well. Notice
that, even in the enriched fraction of membrane, there appears to be no
expression of SDF-1 in the CCl4 model. As seen in the whole cell lysate
fraction B), the expression of SDF-1 is highly expressed in the oval cell aided
model of regeneration. Actin bands are shown to show loading consistency.
Protein was pooled from n=3-6 samples per time point.


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Figure 2-4. Immunohistochemistry for SDF-1 on frozen rat liver sections obtained from
male Fisher 344 rat. A) Normal (control) liver for representation of normal
levels of SDF-1 expression. B) From normal rat liver without antibody to
serve as the negative control. C), D) Oval cell-aided regeneration model of
2AAF/CCl4, day 9, and 2AAF/PHx, day 9, respectively. E) 2AAF/CCl4
model day 9 post-injury. F) 2AAF/PHx day 9 post-injury. CV, central vein;
arrows point to a few representative individual hepatocytes.

































Figure 2-5. Immunohistochemistry for CXCR4 on frozen rat liver sections obtained
from male Fisher 344 rat. A) Normal liver showing no CXCR4 expression. B)
From normal rat liver without antibody to serve as the negative control. C, D)
Oval cell-aided regeneration models of 2AAF/CCl4, day 11i, and 2-
AAF/PHx, day 13, respectively. E,G) Cytospin of Thy-11l-FITC-labeled cells
(stained green), sorted from animals on the 2-AAF/CCl4 protocol, stained for
CXCR4-Texas Red (E-red stain). A-C were stained using vector blue
detection and counter-stained with nuclear fast-red. D was visualized using
DAB-peroxidase (brown) and counter-stained using Mayors hematoxylin. The
nuclei for E-G were counter-stained using DAPI (blue staining). PT, portal
triad; H, representative hepatocytes; arrows point to representative oval cells
that are positive cells.































Figure 2-6. Immunohistochemistry for SDF-1 and CXCR4 on liver sections obtained
from rats exposed to 2AAF/AA day 9 post-injury. A) There is very little to no
staining for SDF-1. The smaller positive cells could be stellate cells, which are
known to be in close proximity to proliferating oval cells. B,C) No staining
for CXCR4 on the oval cells. D) Staining for CXCR4 on tissue obtained from
rat liver exposed to AA 24-h time point. The area inside the dashed line
represents the damage brought on from AA exposure, and even though there
is a considerable amount of inflammation, no staining is observed. All
photomicrographs were taken using an Olympus BX51 microscope. A and B
have an original magnification of 40X. C was taken under 100X oil
immersion, and D magnification was 20X. Green arrows in A indicate
hepatocytes, while black arrows in A and B point to small clusters of positive
cells, SDF-1, and CXCR4, respectively. Red arrows in B and C point to
representative individual oval cells. HV, hepatic vein; BD, bile duct; CV,
central vein; PT, portal triad.














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Figure 2-7. Comparison of the motogenetic effects of SDF-1 on primary cultures of liver
oval cells plated at high density. SDF-1 was added to the cultures 2 h post-
plating, either in the bottom chamber, the top chamber, or in both chambers.
Time points of 4 and 6 h were examined for cell migration through the trans-
membrane. When SDF-1 was only added to the bottom chamber, there was an
approximately 11i-fold increase of cells moving to the side with the higher
concentration of the protein as compared to control cultures. When SDF-1 was
added to either the top chamber or to both chambers, the fold increase of cells
migrating was minimally increased and did not reach the levels seen when the
protein was only in the bottom chamber. Values are given as mean of n = 3.















CHAPTER 3
KNOCKDOWN OF SDF-1 COMPROMISES OVAL CELL ACTIVATION

Introduction

In general the liver relies on two types of responses to regenerate after maj or tissue

loss: (1) proliferation of existing hepatocytes and (2) to a lesser extent, the activation of

stem/progenitor cell compartment. Mature hepatocytes have a remarkable replication

capability and are very efficient in restoring hepatic parenchyma after liver injury caused

by a variety of methods (i.e. partial hepatoectomy (PH), hepatic toxins, hepatotrophic

virus infection and so on); and thus are enlisted as the first line of regeneration. However,

in some situations where hepatocyte replication is suppressed, such as following

treatment with 2-acetylaminofluorene (2-AAF), oval cells will proliferate and

differentiate to replenish the hepatic mass. Oval cells in this case have been regarded as

facultative liver stem cells capable of differentiating into both hepatocytes and bile duct

epithelial cells.10, 11

The question of the origin of oval cells remains open. It has been suggested that

oval cells or their precursors reside within or adj acent to the canal of Hering, and expand

into the liver parenchyma after activation.67 Other evidence demonstrates that bone

marrow stem cells might be an alternative source of the liver progenitor cells,2-4migrating

to and engrafting in the liver, giving rise to oval cells then hepatocytes. Regardless of the

origin, oval cells or their precursors must depend on proper signals) to mediate

activation, migration and differentiation. The molecular signaling microenvironment at

the site of liver injury consists of a complex array of growth factors, cytokines,









chemokines, extracellular matrix (ECM) as well as cell-cell contacts. Factors that have

been associated with the oval cell response include, but are not limited to, hepatocyte

growth factor (HGF); 91-93,188 transforming growth factor-a (TGF-u);89,96 acidic fibroblast

growth factor (aFGF); 89,196 tumor necrosis factor (TNF); 79,80 leukemia inhibitory factor

(LIF); 84 Stem cell factor (SCF); 70,101 y-interferon (INF-y) 197 and plasminogen

activator/plasmin system 100, but the precise roles of these proteins are unclear.

SDF-1 is a member of CXC chemokines first identified from bone marrow stromal

cells, and later found in most maj or solid organs in the body including liver. One of the

functions of SDF-1 is to direct cell migration along a SDF-1 gradient, from low

concentration to high concentration. This is triggered by binding of SDF-1 to the G-

protein coupled receptor CXCR4 on the surface of responding cells. The SDF-1/CXCR4

axis plays an essential role in hematopoiesis presumably through directing hematopoietic

stem cells (HSCs) to their final niches.198,199 Besides, SDF-1/CXCR4 interaction may

have a more general role during embryogenesis and postnatal tissue regeneration

involving various tissue-committed stem cells. For example, some neural precursors,200

endothelial progenitors201 and primordial germ cells202 also express functional CXCR4 on

their surfaces and the importance of SDF-1/CXCR4 interaction on these cells have been

illustrated by the defects of brain,"' large vessell64 and germ cells202 found in the

embryos of CXCR4 -/- mice. Previous findings from this laboratory have reported that

SDF-1 was up-regulated during oval cell activation but not during normal liver

regenerati on. In the 2 -acetyl ami nofluorene/p arti al hep atectomy (2AAF/PHx) oval cell

activation model, SDF-1 was expressed by hepatocyteS,102 while its receptor CXCR4 was

expressed on the oval cell surface. 102,103 fl? vitro migration assays demonstrated that oval









cells migrate to a gradient of higher SDF-1 concentration.102 These observations bring up

the possibility that the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis may play a role in oval cell activation,

although the significance of this interaction on the oval cell response is yet to be

determined.

In the present study, RNA interference was employed to knock down the SDF-1

signal in the livers of 2AAF/PHx treated rats, providing a more clear view of the role of

the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis during oval cell activation. The oval cell response was assessed

by histology, as well as Northern and Western analyses. These results indicate that the

oval cell response was compromised when SDF-1 expression was suppressed within the

regenerating liver, suggesting an important role of SDF-1 in oval cell activation.

Materials and Methods

Animal Experiments

Two-month old Female F-344 rats were used for all experiments. A 2AAF pallet

(70mg, released over a period of 28 days) was implanted into the peritoneal cavity. 70%

partial hepatoecomy was performed 7 days after 2AAF implantation, and 6x1010 fu of

recombinant adenovirus was infused through tail vein immediately following PHx.

Animals were sacrificed at day 9 after PHx and liver tissues collected for further studies.

All animal studies were conducted according to the NIH guidelines for animal use and

institutionally approved protocols.

Recombinant Adenovirus

SiRNA Expression Cassette. Invert repeat DNA fragments based on rat SDF-1

coding sequence was inserted at the +1 position of mouse U6 promoter. The transcribed

RNA is therefore predicted to form a small hairpin, which will be further processed into









siRNA within the target cell. Control vector was constructed in a similar way except that

a scrambled sequence was used.

Mouse U6 promoter (-315 to +1) was amplified from mouse genomic DNA by

PCR using primer pairs: 5'-ACT AGT GAT CCG ACG CCG CCA TCT CTA GGC-3'

and 5'-GGG CCC AAA CAA GGC TTT TCT CCA AGG GAT ATT TA-3'.

Oligonucleotide pairs: 5'-TGT GCA TTG ACC CGA AAT TTC AAG AGA ATT TCG

GGT CAA TGC ACA CTT TTT GGT AC-3' and 5'-CAA AAA GTG TGC ATT GAC

CCG AAA TTC TCT TGA AAT TTC GGG TCA AGT CAC A-3' were annealed to

form invert repeat DNA template for siRNA against SDF-1 (siSDF). Oligonucleotide

pairs for scrambled siRNA (si-scramble) templates are: 5'-GCA TAT GTG CGT ACC

TAG CAT TCA AGA GAT GCT AGG TAC GCA CAT ATG CCT TTT TTG GTA C-

3' and 5'-CAA AAA AGG CAT ATG TGC GTA CCT AGC ATC TCT TGA ATG CTA

GGT ACG CAC ATA TGC-3'.

Generation of Recombinant Adenovirus. Adeno-X expression system (BD

biosciences clontech, CA) was used to make adenoviral vectors containing the siSDF

expression cassette and control adenoviral vector containing the si-scramble cassette. U6

promoter and invert repeat DNA were inserted into pShuttle vector and the expression

cassettes were further transferred to BD Adeno-X vector. The adenoviral vectors were

then used to transfect AD-293 cells (Stratagene, TX) to produce adenovirus.

Recombinant adenoviruses were enriched and purified using ViraBind Adenovitus

purification kit (Cell Biolabs Inc. CA). All procedures were performed following the

manufacturer' s instructions. The adenovirus containing the siSDF cassette was

designated as Ad-siSDF, and the control virus Ad-scramble.









Immunohistology

Immunofluorescent Staining for SDF-1. Formalin-fixed liver tissues were

embedded in paraffin and cut into 5Clm sections. After deparaffinization and hydration,

sections were microwaved for 7 minutes in 0.01 M citrate buffer (PH6.0). The sections

were then washed with Tris-buffered saline (TB S) and incubated with goat polyclonal

anti-SDF1 (sc-6193, diluted 1:50, Santa Cruz Biotechnology) for 1 hour at room

temperature. Fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-conjugated anti-goat IgG (FI-5000,

diluted 1:200, Vector Laboratories) was used as the secondary antibody.

Immunostaining for OV6. Cryostat sections (5Clm) were fixed in acetone (-200C)

for 10 minutes. After serum blocking and avidin/biotin blocking, sections were incubated

with mouse anti-OV6 antibody (diluted 1:150, gift from Dr. Stewart Sell) for 1 hour at

room temperature and later with biotinylated anti-mouse IgG (Vector Laboratories) for

30 minutes at room temperature. The staining reaction was developed using Vectastain

elite ABC kit (PK-6200, Vector Laboratories) and diaminobenzidine tetrahydrochloride

(DAB) substrate (SK-4100, Vector Laboratories).

Immunostaining for Ki67. 5Clm paraffin sections were microwaved for 7 minutes

in 0.01 M citrate buffer (PH6.0) after deparaffinization and hydration. The sections were

then washed with TBS. After normal serum blocking and avidin/biotin blocking, sections

were incubated with mouse anti-Ki67 antibody (diluted 1:100, PharMingen 556003) for 1

hour at room temperature and later with biotinylated anti-mouse IgG (Vector

Laboratories) for 30 minutes at room temperature. The staining reaction was developed

using Vectastain elite ABC kit (PK-6200, Vector Laboratories) and diaminobenzidine

tetrahydrochloride (DAB) substrate (SK-4100, Vector Laboratories).









Northern Blotting

Total RNA was isolated from liver tissues using RNA-BeeTM reagent (CS-501B,

Tel-Test, Inc.) 10Clg of total RNA were loaded onto a denaturing 1% formaldehyde

agarose gel, electrophoresed in the presence of formaldehyde and transferred to

Genescreen nylon membrane (NEN Life Science). Hybridization and stripping were

performed according to manufacturer' s instructions. DNA probes for AFP, SDF-1 and

Glyseraldehyde-3 -phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) were labeled with (a-32P) dCTP

using Megaprime DNA labeling system (Amersham Bioscienses) and following

manufacturer' s instructions.

Western Blotting

Liver lysates were separated by SDS-PAGE and transferred to Immun-Blot PVDF

membrane (Bio-Rad) using standard technique. For ot-fetoprotein (AFP) detection, goat

polyclonal anti-AFP IgG (sc-8108, Santa Cruz Biotechnology) and horseredish

peroxidase (HRP) conjugated anti-goat IgG (sc-23 52, Santa Cruz Biotechnology) was

used as primary and secondary antibody, respectively. ECL plus western blotting

detection kit (RPN 2132, Amersham Biosciences) was used for development of the

membrane. Membranes were stripped and blocked before detection of different proteins.

For SDF-1 detection, goat polyclonal anti-SDF 1 (sc-6193, Santa Cruz Biotechnology)

was used as primary antibody and HRP-conjugated anti-goat IgG (sc-23 52, Santa Cruz

Biotechnology) as secondary antibody. For p-actin detection, mouse anti-actin IgG

(ab6276, Abcam) was used as primary antibody and HRP-conjugated anti-mouse IgG

(Amersham Life Sciencenses) as secondary.









TUNEL Analysis

Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT)-mediated dUTP nick-end-labeling

(TUNEL) assay was performed on paraffin-embedded liver sections to detect apoptotic

cells using the ApoAlertThl DNA fragmentation assay kit (Cat. 630107, BD Biosciences

Clontech), and following manufacturer's instruction.

Results

SDF-1 Expression in Rat Liver after 2AAF/PHx

SDF-1 expression was not detected by immunostaining on quiescent liver cells

before oval cell induction (Figure 3 1A). An increasing number of hepatocytes were

decorated with SDF-lantibody over time as the oval cell reaction progressed. By day 7

and day 9 after 2AAF/PHx, most of the hepatocytes located within pericentral region

were positive for SDF-1, while most of the cells located within portal regions were SDF-

1 negative. (Figure 3 IB and C)

Suppression of SDF-1 Expression by SiSDF in the Livers of 2AAF/PHx Rats

Recombinant adenovirus has been used for hepatic gene transfer to express

therapeutic gene products in mice, rats, rabbits, and dogs. From these studies,

intravenously administered adenovirus has proven to be highly efficient in transducing

non-dividing hepatocytes.203 In the present study, adenovirus was used to deliver the

siRNA expression cassette into rat liver after 2AAF/PHx. 9 days after virus infusion,

SDF-1 expressions in Ad-siSDF transduced livers were remarkably knocked down in

more than 90% of the hepatocytes (Figure 3 2E), while the Ad-scramble treatment did

not inhibit up-regulation of SDF-1. (Figure 3 2C) Northern blot and Western blot

analyses of Ad-siSDF treated livers further confirmed decreased levels of SDF-1 mRNA










and protein. (Figure 3 4, lane 3) It is unlikely that suppression of SDF-1 production was

due to non-specific inhibition of protein synthesis by foreign RNA or adenovirus

infection because similar levels of SDF-1 mRNA and protein were seen between Ad-

scramble treated 2AAF/PHx liver and 2AAF/PHx liver (Figure 3 4, lanel and lane 2).

Inhibition of Oval Cell Response by Knocking Down SDF-1

Day 9 after 2AAF/PHx and Ad-scramble infusion, numerous oval cells appeared at

the portal regions (Figure 3 2D). Oval cells featured an ovoid-shaped nucleus and high

nucleus/cytoplasm ratio when stained with hematoxylin and eosin. A remarkable

decrease in oval cell proliferation was seen in the liver of 2AAF/PHx rats treated with

Ad-siSDF (Figure 3 2F). Consistent with the morphologic findings, the number of

OV6' oval cells was dramatically decreased in Ad-siSDF treated 2AAF/PHx rats as

compared to that of Ad-scramble treated rats (Figure 3 3C, 3 3D versus Figure

3 -3A, 3 -3B).

Northern blot and Western blot analyses on co-ffetoprotein (AFP) showed that this

oval cell marker protein was dramatically reduced at both the RNA and protein levels in

the livers of Ad-siSDF treated 2AAF/PHx rat (Figure 3 4), which further confirmed that

the oval cell activation was compromised in these animals.

Decrease of Oval Cell Number Was Not Related to Oval Cell Apoptosis

Since SDF-1 has been shown, in some studies, to be capable of protecting CD34

progenitor cells from apoptosis, 141 it was considered that the decreased number of oval

cells seen in Ad-siSDF treated animal was the result of apoptosis of those cells. To

address this issue, TUNEL staining of the liver sections was used to assess apoptosis in

the livers of all rats used in these studies. Apoptotic cells were rarely detected in all three










groups of rats (Figure 3 5). Hence, suppression of SDF-1 did not increase oval cell

apoptosis evidently. The decrease in oval cell numbers seen in Ad-siSDF treated animal

results likely from suppressed proliferation of oval cells.

Consistent with this notion, Ki67 staining revealed that the number of cells entering

active cell cycle was far lower in Ad-siSDF treated rat than in control rat in day 13 after

the treatment. (Figure 3 6) The cells proliferating around day 13 included oval cells and

their progenies--new hepatocytes and bile duct cells. This result indicates that

knockdown of SDF-1 expression in the damaged liver inhibits the proliferation of hepatic

cells, and thus hinders oval cell-aided liver regeneration.

Discussion

A role for the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis in stem cell-aided liver regeneration has been

suggested by several studies, all of which demonstrated a correlation between SDF-1

expression and stem cell accumulation in the liver. 102-104 In the present study, the well-

characterized 2AAF/PHx model was used to determine the role of SDF-1 in oval cell

activation. In 2AAF/PHx model, oval cell number increases markedly by day 5 following

PHx and peaks at approximately day 9.170 Consistent with the previous findings, SDF-1

was expressed mostly in the pericentral region of the liver during oval cell activation

(Figure 1). These findings are in contradiction with those of Mavier et al (2004), who

demonstrated in a similar model that SDF-1 was strongly expressed by oval cells while

only rarely detected in hepatocyteS.103 The discrepancy might stem from the use of

different antibodies. According to our present findings, production of SDF-1 was

polarized across the liver lobule with high levels of expression near the central vein and

virtually no expression around the portal triad. SDF-1 is known to bind heparin sulfate









associated proteoglycan on cell membrane and extracellular matrix (ECM).204 SDF-1 is

critical for cell trafficking in a number of important biological events including

hematopoietic stem cell homing, 198, 199 cancer metastasiS205 and primordial germ cell

migration.202' 206 During oval cell reaction in 2AAF/PHx rat model, oval cells proliferate

and radiate from the periportal region (possible from canal of Hering). Since oval cells

express CXCR4 on their surface, it is possible that oval cells arising from periportal

region respond to the SDF-1 gradient across the liver lobule and migrate into the

parenchyma, where the microenvironment is favorable for their differentiation into

hepatocytes.

The interaction of SDF-1 with CXCR4 also increases secretion of matrix

metalloproteinase (MMPs) by target cells. These proteolytic enzymes play an important

role in stem cell migration through vascular basement membranes.137At early stages of

oval cell activation; oval cell ductules are surrounded by basement membrane, which

disappears from the oval cell foci when they begin to differentiate into small

hepatocytes.207 An hr vitro study showed that hepatic stem cells express an hepatocyte

phenotype only when losing touch with basement membrane matrix, 208 Suggesting that

degradation of basement membrane may be critical for oval cells to differentiate down

hepatocytic direction. A SDF-1 signal elicited in oval cell activation might stimulate

MMPs secretion from oval cells or other nonparenchymal cells (Kupffer cells, stellate

cells et al) proximal to the oval cell foci. The degradation of the surrounding basement

membranes by these MMPs may facilitate oval cell migration into liver lobules and allow

them to differentiate into small hepatocytes. AFP is a widely used oval cell marker

indicative of hepatocytic commitment. In this study, AFP expression was lost in the liver









when SDF-1 signal was knocked down during oval cell activation; supporting our

hypothesis that SDF-1 may function to direct oval cell movement into the hepatic

parenchyma and differentiation into hepatocyte in 2AAF/PHx rat model.

The effect of SDF-1 on cell survival/anti-apoptosis remains controversial. Recent

studies found that activation of the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis prevents certain hematopoietic

stem/progenitor cells or cell lines from apoptosis in vitro, 139-141 while others did not.136,

145 Apoptosis has been reported in later stages of oval cell-aided liver regeneration. Yano

et al (2004) observed apoptosis of hepatocytes surrounding oval cells at day 9 post

2AAF/PHx.209 In another study, oval cell apoptosis was seen to peak at day 10 after

2AAF/PHx, concurrent with the secretion of TGFP by hepatic stellate cells. It is believed

that apoptosis of these cells represents a mechanism for modulating hepatic cell number

and remodeling of liver parenchyma in the final stages of oval cell-aided liver

regeneration.189 In OUT OVal cell activation model, apoptosis was not evident at day 9 after

2AAF/PHx under either SDF-1 suppression or up-regulation. However, since survival of

oval cells was not compromised by knocking down of SDF-1, the decrease in the number

of oval cells observed in treated animals most likely reflect a decrease in proliferation of

oval cells, suggesting a possible role of SDF-1 in oval cell proliferation.

SDF-1 was found to promote the proliferation of astrocytes210 and some tumor cell

lines such as glioblastoma cells211 and ovarian cancer cells212. This effect has been shown

to correlate with activation of ERKl/2 and PI3K-AKT pathways in the target cells.210, 212

However, other in vitro studies have showed that SDF-1 induced activation of these

pathways did not affect proliferation/survival of several hematopoietic cell lines.136 This

suggests that activation of other signaling pathways is required in the target cells to









enhance their proliferation or survival. Moreover, there is evidence showing that SDF-1

acts synergistically with other cytokines such as granulocyte-macrophage colony-

stimulating factor (GM-CSF), stem cell factor (SCF) and thrombopoietin (TPO)

enhancing survival of CD34+ progenitor cells. 213 SDF-1/CXCR4 interaction also induces

epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor phosphorylation to enhance proliferation of

ovarian cancer cells.212 All these data support the notion that crosstalk between SDF-

1/CXCR4 axis and other cytokine signaling pathways play an important role in regulating

stem cell proliferation or survival. As shown by the present study, down-regulation of

SDF-1 expression in the liver causes impaired oval cell response, implying an important

role of SDF-1 in promoting oval cell proliferation.

Oval cell-aided liver regeneration is regulated by an array of cytokines and

chemokines such as HGF, TGFu, aF GF, TN\Fu, LIF, S CF and INF -y et al.70,79, 80,84,89,91-

93,96,101,196,197 SDF-1/CXCR4 interaction may represent an essential component of this

complex controlling network. Besides its direct action on oval cells, it is possible that

SDF-1 also has an effect on other hepatic cells. Further studies aimed to elucidate the

function of SDF-1 on various hepatic cells and to dissect the connections between SDF-1

and other cytokine signaling pathways in the context of oval cell-aided liver regeneration

will be critical for a better understanding of pathophysiology of liver regeneration.








































Figure 3-1. Immunofluorescent staining of SDF-1 in normal rat liver and 2AAF/PHx rat
liver. A) Normal liver; B) 2AAF/PHx rat, day 7; C) 2AAF/PHx rat, day 9.
Arrows point to SDF-1 positive hepatocytes. SDF-1 (green) expression can be
seen in most of the hepatocytes within the pericentral region on the liver of
2AAF/PHx rat. In this model, most cells within portal triads are SDF-1
negative (B and C). SDF-1 expression is not detected in normal liver (A). (PT:
portal triad; CV: central vein. Original magnification: 20X).



















































Figure 3-2. Ad-siSDF knocks down SDF-1 expression in 2AAF/PHx rat livers and
inhibits the oval cell reaction in these animals. A)Normal rat liver; B)
2AAF/PHx, day 9, primary antibody omitted (negative control); C-D) liver
sections from 2AAF/PHx rat treated with Ad-scramble, day 9; E-F) Liver
sections from 2AAF/PHx rat treated with Ad-siSDF, day 9. A-C, E)
immunofluorescence of SDF-1 (green) counter-stained with DAPI (blue).
SDF-1 was knocked down in Ad-siSDF treated animal liver (compare E to C).
D) and F) are H&E staining of liver sections showing suppressed oval cell
response in Ad-siSDF treated animals F) compared to control animal D).
Arrows point to oval cells. (Original magnification: 20X)









































Figure 3-3. OV6 immunostaining of rat liver sections. A) 2AAF/PHx rat treated with
Ad-scramble, day 9; B) High magnification of the bracketed area in A); C)
2AAF/PHx rat treated with Ad-siSDF, day 9; D) High magnification of
bracketed area in C). Arrows point to oval cells. Less OV6+ (brown) oval
cells are seen in Ad-siSDF treated animals C-D) than those seen in control
animals A-B). (Original magnification: 10X for A and C; 40X for B and D)













12 3


AFP
H SDF-1









1 2 3
2AAF/PHx 2AAF/PHx 2AAF/PHx
+Ad-scramble +Ad-slSDF


0


S1 2 3


AFP I



SDF-1 41



A~ctin -


H AFP
H SDF-1










1 2 3
2AAF/PHx 2AAF/PHx 2AAF/PHx
+Ad-scramble +Ad-slSDF


~0.5


Figure 3-4. Knockdown of SDF-1 and the expression of AFP. A) Northern blot analysis
of AFP and SDF-1 mRNA in rat livers; B) Western blot analysis of AFP SDF-
1 protein expression in rat livers. In both A) and B), samples in lane 1 are
from livers of 2AAF/PHx rats; lane 2 2AAF/PHx/Ad-scramble treated rats
and lane 3 2AAF/PHx/Ad-siSDF treated rats. 10Clg of pooled total RNA
samples or 5Clg of pooled protein samples from same group of animals (n=3 in
each group) was loaded to each lane. Relative quantity of each band is
determined by normalizing its total density to that of loading control in the
same lane, and is plotted in accompanying graph. Ad-siSDF-induced RNA
interference result in considerable decrease in SDF-1 expression in both
mRNA and protein level, accompanied by an almost absent of AFP expression
from these rat livers (lane 3). Ad-scramble infusions do not cause significant
decrease in SDF-1 and AFP expression in control animals (lane 2 compared
with lane 1).


SDF-1


GAPDH



































Figure 3-5. No significant apoptosis detected by TUNEL staining in 2AAF/PHx rat
livers. A) 2AAF/PHx rat, day 9; B) 2AAF/PHx/Ad-scramble treated rat, day
9; C) 2AAF/PHx/Ad-siSDF treated rat, day 9. Arrows point to apoptotic cells
(green), which are sporadic on the liver sections from all animals. The extents
of apoptosis in the liver are similar between all three groups at this time point.
(Original magnification: 10X)






























500
C 450
400
350
300


1 50

PI100
50


2AAF/PHx 2AAF/PHx
Ad-scranle dayl3 Ad-siS DF dayl3


Figure 3-6. Knockdown of SDF-1 hindered hepatic cell proliferation. A)
2AAF/PHx/Ad-scramble treated rat, day 13; B) 2AAF/PHx/Ad-siSDF treated
rat, day 13. Arrows point to proliferating oval cells and arrowheads point to
proliferating hepatocytes. (Original magnification: 20X) C) Comparison of the
number of proliferating cells in different group of animals. Ki67 positive cells
(brown nucleus) were counted as proliferating cells from 25 randomly
selected fields in sections of each group. The cells residing within sinusoids
were intentionally ignored since they were not related to oval cells. The
number of proliferating cells per field (under 20X magnification) was
465.8153.7 in control rat and 157.5120.2 in Ad-siSDF treated rat.
(Meani2SD, students' t test, P<0.01)















CHAPTER 4
EFFECTS OF SDF-1 OVEREXPRESSION DURING OVAL CELL-AIDED LIVER
REGENERATION

Introduction

It has been documented that hepatocytes can be generated from hematopoietic stem

cells (HSCs).2,3,4 This has raised the hopes that HSCs could in the future be used for

regeneration and reconstitution of damaged liver, or serve as carriers of therapeutic gene

for gene therapy.

In order for HSCs residing in bone marrow to become hepatocytes in the liver,

these cells must first move out to the circulation; when they reach the liver, they must

engraft into the liver and eventually differentiate into hepatocytes. The mechanisms

governing each steps of this process are not fully understood.

The studies on bone marrow derived hepatocytes have revealed that generation of

hepatocytes from HSCs occurs in a fairly low frequency. The contribution of HSCs to the

hepatocytes in the regenerating liver vary from 0.8%~8%, depending on the species, the

injury model, the time after liver damage, and the techniques used to identify bone

marrow derived hepatocytes.3,214,215 To significantly increase the bone marrow

contribution to the liver parenchyma, the signals have to be elucidated that control the

mobilization of HSCs from bone marrow and homing of these cells to injured liver; then

the ways to modify those signals need to be found to improve the efficiency of these

processes.










Studies on murine and human subj ects have shown that the SDF-1/CXCR4

interaction is involved in regulating mobilization of HSCs and has been implicated in

migration of stem cells during organogenesis and adult tissue repairing, including homing

of HSCs to bone marrow.111,198-202 Our research elaborated in the previous chapters also

suggested that the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis was a critical player in stem cell-aided liver

regeneration. It is of great interest to see whether augmentation of SDF-1 in the liver will

lead to enhancement of oval cell activation, or increase of contribution of bone marrow

stem cell to the hepatocytes. To this end, bone marrow transplantations were performed

from DPPVI+ male rats to lethally irradiated DPPIV- female rats. One month after bone

marrow transplantation, the DPPIV- rats were put into 2AAF/PHx treatment and received

one dose of inj section of recombine adenovirus carrying SDF-1 expression cassette

immediately after PHx. Animal tissue were collected and examined at day 9 and day 28

after PHx and virus infusion.

Materials and Methods

Recombinant Adenovirus

SDF-1 Overexpression Cassette. SDF-la cDNA coding region was PCR-

amplified from mouse liver cDNA and inserted downstream of HBV promoter (a kind

gift from Dr. chen liu, University of Florida). The primer set used is 5'-GTC CAC CTC

GGT GTC CTC TT-3' and 5'-CCA CGG ATG TCA GCC TTC CT-3'.

Generation of Adenovirus. Adeno-X expression system (BD biosciences

clontech, CA) is used to make adenoviral vectors containing SDF-la expression cassette.

The adenoviral vectors are then used to transfect AD-293 cells (Stratagene, TX) to

produce adenovirus. All procedures are performed following manufacturer's manual. The









adenovirus containing SDF-1 overexpression cassette is designated Ad-SDF-GFP and the

control virus Ad-GFP.

Bone Marrow Transplantation

Dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPPIV) negative female F-344 rats were used as

recipients. These rats were subj ected to a lethal dose of irradiation of 900 rads (450

radsX2, with 3 hours interval) before receiving bone marrow cell infusion. Normal male

F-344 rats were used as bone marrow donors. Bone marrow cells were isolated from the

femurs and the tibias of the donor rats. Briefly, donor rats were killed by Nembutal

overdose (100mg/kg) and disinfected by immersion in 70% ethanol; after the bones were

removed and cleaned of soft tissue, bone marrow was exposed by cutting the end of the

bone and bone marrow cells were expelled by inserting a needle and forcing Iscov

medium through the bone shaft. Bone marrow cells were then passed through a nylon

mesh to remove any bone pieces. Approximately 60X106 male bone marrow cells were

infused to each recipient via tail vein. Chimera was detected by PCR screening for Y-

chromosome 30 days after transplantation. Established chimeras were used for oval cell

induction.

DPPIV Staining

5Clm frozen sections were fixed in -20oC Ethanol:glacial acetic acid (99: 1) for 5

minutes, then transferred to 4oC 95% ethanol for 5 minutes. The slides were left at room

temperature to air dry. After that, substrate solution was applied on the slides and the

slides were incubated at 37oC for 20 minutes. The slides were washed with TMS buffer

twice and incubated with 0. 1 M CuSO4 for 2 minutes at room temperature. The slides

were then washed and conterstained with hematoxylin for 1 minute.









Sub state solution: GPMN (Gly-Pro-4-Methoxy-B eta-Naphlylamide): 2.5 mg in

150 CIL Of Dimethylformamide. Fast blue BB salt: 5mg in 5 ml of TMS buffer. Mix and

filter immediately before use. TMS buffer: 0.1 M Tris maleate, 0.1 M NaC1, PH6.5.

Laminin Staining

Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded liver tissues were cut into 5Clm sections. After

deparaffinization and re-hydration, the sections were covered with proteinase K

(20Clg/ml, in TE buffer, PH8.0) and incubate for 15 minutes at 37oC in a humidified

chamber. The sections were allowed to cool to room temperature before washing with

TBS. After normal serum blocking and avidin/biotin blocking, sections were incubated

with polyclonal anti-laminin IgG (diluted 1:100, Dakocytomation 20097) for 1 hour a

room temperature. After wash and blocking of endogenous peroxidase activity, the

sections were incubated with biotinylated anti-rabbit IgG (Vector Laboratories) for 30

minutes at room temperature. The staining reaction was developed using Vectastain elite

ABC kit (PK-6200, Vector Laboratories) and diaminobenzidine tetrahydrochloride

(DAB) substrate (SK-4100, Vector Laboratories).

Immunofluorescence of Desmin/Laminin

Cryostat sections (5Clm) were fixed in acetone (-20oC) for 10 minutes. After

washing and normal serum blocking, sections were incubated with mouse anti-desmin

antibody (diluted 1:50, Dako 0904) and rabbit anti-laminin IgG (diluted 1:100,

Dakocytomation 20097) for 1 hour at room temperature. Texas red-conjugated anti-

mouse IgG and Fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-conjugated anti-rabbit IgG (diluted

1:200, Vector Laboratories) was used as secondary antibody.









Immunofluorescence of OV6/Laminin

Cryostat sections (5Clm) were fixed in acetone (-20oC) for 3 minutes. After washing

and normal serum blocking, sections were incubated with mouse anti-OV6 antibody

(diluted 1:150, gift from Dr. Stewart Sell) and rabbit anti-laminin IgG (diluted 1:100,

Dakocytomation 20097) for 1 hour at room temperature. Texas red-conjugated anti-

mouse IgG and Fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-conjugated anti-rabbit IgG (diluted

1:200, Vector Laboratories) was used as secondary antibody.

Immunofluorescence of OV6/Desmin

Cryostat sections (5Clm) were fixed in acetone (-20oC) for 3 minutes. After washing

and normal serum blocking, sections were incubated with mouse anti-OV6 antibody

(diluted 1:150, gift from Dr. Stewart Sell). After washing, the sections were incubated

with secondary antibody Texas red-conjugated anti-mouse IgG (diluted 1:200, Vector

Laboratories) for 1 hour at room temperature. The sections were then microwaved in 0.01

M citrate buffer (PH 6.0) for 10 minutes to deactivate unbounded primary antibody. After

wash and normal serum blocking, the sections were incubated with mouse anti-desmin

antibody (diluted 1:50, Dako 0904) for 1 hour at room temperature, followed by

secondary antibody Fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-conjugated anti-mouse IgG.

ELISA for SDF-1

Quantikine mouse SDF-1/CXCL12 immunoassay kit (R&D system, MCX120) was

used to determine SDF-1 level in rat serum following the manufacturer's instruction.

10C1l of serum from each animal was diluted in 90 Cll of calibrator diluent RD6Q (1:10

dilution) and used in the assay.









Results

Overexpression of SDF in the Liver Does Not Enhance Oval Cell Activation at Day 9

The serum SDF-1 level was elevated in the rats after 2AAF/PHx, consistent with

the findings of Western blot and immunohistochemistry (Figures 2-2 and 3-1,

respectively). In the rats receives the infusion of Ad-SDF-GFP, serum SDF-1 level

were higher than that of control rats infused with Ad-GFP (Figure 4-1A), as a result of

transgene expression. The GFP expression by the hepatocytes further confirmed the

expression of transgene within the liver (Figure 4-1B).

Day 9 after PHx and virus infusion, the oval cell activation in both Ad-SDF-GFP

treated rats and control rats were comparable to each other, as seen in the H&E stained

liver section. (Figure 4-2) DPPIV staining was also performed in the liver sections from

these animals to detect bone marrow derived hepatocytes. However DPPIV positive

hepatocytes were not seen at this time point.

Overexpression of SDF in the Liver Promote ECM Deposition in the Liver at Day 28
after 2AAF/PHx

Pathological symptoms were noticed in the rats that received 2AAF/PHx/ Ad-SDF-

GFP. Animals were lethargic since day 20 after PHx and Ad-SDF-GFP infusion, and

suffered from progressive dehydration and body waste with minimal response to

supplement of diet vitamin and infusion of isotonic fluid. No similar symptom was noted

in control animals treated with 2AAF/PHx/Ad-GFP. Animals were sacrificed at Day 28.

Gross exam revealed numerous small nodules in the livers of Ad-SDF-GFP infused rats.

Other findings include enlarged spleen; extended colon pouch stuffed with grainy

undigested food, thin colon wall in the color of dark pink; no blockage were found distal









to the extended pouch. H&E staining on the liver sections from these animals showed

cell-rich, fibrotic-like septa between portal regions. (Figure 4-3)

Most of the cells within the septa can be classified into three categories by their

morphology: cells with spindle-shape nucleus, possibly (myo)fibroblasts; cells with

ovoid-shape nucleus, possible oval cells; and newly generating hepatocytes.

DPPIV staining displayed a minimal number of bone marrow-derived cells

incorporated in the livers of both 2AAF/PHx/Ad-SDF-GFP treated rats and control rats,

with similar frequency (Figure 4-4). Those bone marrow-derived cells are not likely

hepatocytes because they fail to show the typical DPPIV staining pattern of canaliculi

membrane of hepatocytes. Further studies are required to identify these cells.

Laminin staining was performed to delineate the fibrotic-like septa. The liver of

2AAF/PHx/Ad-SDF-GFP treated rat exhibited heavier laminin deposit than control liver

(Figure 4-5A-D). However, collagen deposit typically seen in liver fibrosis is not

evident in either rat, as shown by trichrom staining (Figure 4-5E-F).

Double staining of OV6 and Laminin demonstrated that maj ority of the cells within

the septa were OV6 positive and were surrounded by laminin (Figure 4-6A). The

desmin signal did not co-localized with OV6 signal, and desmin expressing cells were

much lower in number than OV6+ cells (Figure 4-6B). Furthermore, although desmin

positive cells were in close proximity to the laminin, they were not circled in laminin, but

rather resided adj acent to hepatocytes (Figure 4-6C).

Discussions

In our previous studies, SDF-1 has been shown to upregulated in rat liver; and

when SDF-1 expression is suppressed, oval cell activation is inhibited. These findings










suggest that SDF-1 is an important molecule in stem cell-aided liver regeneration. Day 9

after infusion of Ad-SDF-GFP into the 2AAF/PHx rats, SDF-1 was overexpressed in the

liver, adding more to the already upregulated endogenous level. However, oval cell

activation in these animals was not enhanced accordingly, neither was the engraftment of

bone marrow stem cells at this time point. The reason is probably that the endogenous

upregulation of SDF-1 after 2AAF/PHx itself is significant enough to reach its maximal

potency in stimulating oval cell activation. As a consequence, the overexpression of

exogenous SDF-1 would not show significant add-on effect.

The overexpression of SDF-1, however, might have a broader set of effects on the

functions of multiple cell types during liver regeneration, as suggested by the finding that

the SDF-1 overexpressing livers developed heavy laminin deposition between portal

triads 28 days after 2AAF/PHx. The mechanism for the dysregulation of extracellualr

matrix is unclear in these animals. Based on the cellular composition within the fibrotic-

like septa, a working model integrating the function of multiple cell types must be

considered.

Chronic liver damages tend to induce the accumulation of extracellular matrix

(ECM) proteins in the liver, a process called liver fibrosis. The excessive ECM proteins

are produced by the activated myofibroblasts, which could be of multiple origins within

the liver. In portal-portal fibrosis, like the ones we see in this study, the myofibroblasts

that contribute most to the ECM are activated portal fibroblasts.216,217 hepatic stellate

cells were later be recruited to the interface between the fibrous septa and the

parenchyma and be activated to myofibroblasts.217,218









Whether SDF-1 plays a role in activating fibroblast or hepatic stellate cells is

unknown. If yes, overexpression of SDF-1 could directly promote liver fibrosis in the

hosts. It has been known that the activation of fibroblasts and hepatic stellate cells is

controlled by a complex array of cytokines secreted by inflammatory cells such as

Kupffer cells, nature killer cells and lymphocytes, in responding to liver injury.219 The

overexpression of SDF-1 might increase the recruitment of inflammatory cells to the site

of liver damage. As a consequence, the production of pro-fibrosis factors might increase,

leading to excessive ECM deposition by activated fibroblasts and hepatic stellate cells.

The ECM proteins found to excessively deposit in the fibrotic liver include three

large families of proteins-glycoproteins such as fibronectin, laminin, hyaluronic acid et

al; proteoglycans and collagens.220 But the most characterized feature of liver fibrosis is

increased deposition of type I and type III collagen.22 However, in our model of SDF-1

overexpressing liver, laminin was the dominant ECM deposit, instead of collagens, as

evidenced by comparing the laminin staining to trichrome staining results. (Figure 4 5)

The meaning of this discrepancy and how it relates to overexpression of SDF-1 is

unclear. Another interesting finding was that a large number of OV6+ cells were seen

within the laminin-rich septa. The identity of these OV6+ cells is ambiguous based on the

limited data on hand. They could be proliferating bile duct epithelial cells, which are also

activated and contribute to ECM deposition during portal tract fibrogenesis.221

Considering that the primary goal of the injury (2AAF/PHx) was to induce oval cell

activation in these animals, it is a nature view that the OV6+ cells thriving in the portal-

portal septa are oval cells or their progenies. In 2AAF/PHx rat model, oval cell activation

usually peak around day 9-13. After that most of the oval cells start to differentiate.170 If









this is the case, the oval cells residing within the septa till day 28 must result from the

arresting of differentiation of these cells into hepatocytes. The factor that prevent oval

cell from differentiating could be the excessive laminin, which is a maj or component of

basement membrane. At early stage of oval cell activation; oval cell ductules are

surrounded by basement membranes, which disappear from the oval cell foci when they

start to differentiate into small hepatocytes.207 f? WitrO Study also showed that hepatic

stem cells expressed hepatocytic phenotype only when losing touch with basement

membrane matrix.208 It is possible that oval cell-laminin contact is an inhibitory signal for

oval cells to differentiate down hepatocytic direction. In fact, a number of hepatocytes

were seen residing within the septa, which were presumably newly derived from oval

cells. These hepatocytes were not embedded in laminin and were closely proximal to

desmin positive cells, presumably hepatic stellate cells. In addition to being a maj or

source of ECM production, activated hepatic stellate cells also show increases in

expression of MMPs, which serve as modulators of ECM accumulation. It is possible that

hepatic stellate cells also secret MMPs to degrade laminin and allow the oval cells to

differentiate into hepatocytes. In our SDF-1 overexpression rat model, the SDF-1 is

mainly expressed by hepatocytes within the liver lobule, thus the SDF-1 level in portal

region is relatively low (but still higher than that of non-overexpression animals). If SDF-

1 is the chemotactic factor for stellate cells, one may expect to see fewer hepatic stellate

cells recruited to portal-portal septa, because a steeper gradient of SDF-1 exist in the

SDF-1 overexpresing liver compared to non-overexpressing animals, with high

concentration end in liver lobule and low end in portal region. This could partially

explain the heavier laminin deposition and oval cell detention in the overexpression rats.










Our present overexpression study brings up the possibility that SDF-1 signaling

may be involved in portal-portal fibrosis. To ask better defined questions and to explore

the answers, more comprehensive study must be conducted to gather the information

about the course of the whole process of fibrosis after oval cell activation, including the

identities of the cell types involved, the transition, migration and secretion of these cells.

And future studies regarding the putative effects of SDF-1 on portal fibroblasts,

hepatic stellate cells and oval cells are pivotal to better understand of the mechanism of

liver fibrosis after oval cell activation.






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A


-*-A -SDF-GFP







0 3 57 9Dys



Figure 4-1. Overexpression of SDF-1. A) Elevation of serum SDF-1 level after infusion
of Ad-SDF-GFP to 2AAF/PHx treated rat. B) GFP expression (green) within
the liver of 2AAF/PHx/Ad-SDF-GFP treated rat. (Original magnification
20X)







































Figure 4-2. Oval cell activation at day 9 after 2AAF/PHx with or without SDF-1
overexpression. A) SDF-1 expression (green) within the liver of
2AAF/PHx/Ad-SDF-GFP treated rat. B) H&E staining of the liver of
2AAF/PHx/Ad-SDF-GFP treated rat. C) SDF-1 expression (green) within the
liver of 2AAF/PHx/Ad-GFP treated rat. D) H&E staining of the liver of
2AAF/PHx/Ad-GFP treated rat. (Original magnifications 20X)








































Figure 4-3. H&E staining of the liver of 2AAF/PHx treated rat with or without SDF-1
overexpression (day 28). A) and B) 2AAF/PHx/Ad-SDF-GFP. C) and D)
2AAF/PHx/Ad-GFP. (Original magnification: A and C, 4X; B and D, 40X)