Scientific publications 

Protection against liver damage by cardiotrophin-1: a hepatocyte survival factor up-regulated in the regenerating liver in rats

Bustos M, Beraza N, Lasarte JJ, Baixeras E, Alzuguren P, Bordet T, Prieto J.
Department of Medicine, Division of Hepatology and Gene Therapy, Clinica Universitaria and Medical School, University of Navarra.

Magazine: Gastroenterology

Date: Jul 1, 2003


Cardiotrophin-1 (CT-1) is a member of the interleukin 6 (IL-6) family of cytokines, which protect cardiac myocytes against thermal and ischemic insults. In this study, we investigated the expression of CT-1 by liver cells and its possible hepatoprotective properties.

We analyzed the production, signaling, and antiapoptotic properties of CT-1 in hepatocytes and the expression of this cytokine during liver regeneration. We also investigated whether CT-1 might exert protective effects in animal models of liver damage.

We found that CT-1 is up-regulated during liver regeneration and exerts potent antiapoptotic effects on hepatocytic cells. Hepatocytes cultured under serum starvation or stimulated with the pro-apoptotic cytokine transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) produce CT-1, which behaves as an autocrine/paracrine survival factor. Treatment with an adenovirus encoding CT-1 efficiently protects rats against fulminant liver failure after subtotal hepatectomy, an intervention that causes 91% mortality in control animals whereas 54% of those receiving CT-1 gene therapy were long-term survivors. This protective effect was associated with reduced caspase-3 activity and activation of the antiapoptotic signaling cascades signal transducer and activator of transcription (Stat-3), extracellular regulated kinases (Erk) 1/2, and Akt in the remnant liver. Gene transfer of CT-1 to the liver also abrogated Concanavalin A (Con-A) liver injury and activated antiapoptotic pathways in the hepatic tissue. Similar protection was obtained by treating the animals with 5 microg of recombinant CT-1 given intravenously before Con-A administration.

We show that CT-1 is a hepatocyte survival factor that efficiently reduces hepatocellular damage in animal models of acute liver injury. Our data point to CT-1 as a new promising hepatoprotective therapy.

CITATION  Gastroenterology. 2003 Jul;125(1):192-201

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