Scientific publications 

The epidermal growth factor receptor ligand amphiregulin participates in the development of mouse liver fibrosis

Perugorria MJ, Latasa MU, Nicou A, Cartagena-Lirola H, Castillo J, Goñi S, Vespasiani-Gentilucci U, Zagami MG, Lotersztajn S, Prieto J, Berasain C, Avila MA.
Division of Hepatology and Gene Therapy, CIMA, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.

Magazine: Hepatology

Date: Oct 1, 2008


The hepatic wound-healing response to chronic noxious stimuli may lead to liver fibrosis, a condition characterized by excessive deposition of extracellular matrix. Fibrogenic cells, including hepatic stellate cells and myofibroblasts, are activated in response to a variety of cytokines, growth factors, and inflammatory mediators.

The involvement of members of the epidermal growth factor family in this process has been suggested. Amphiregulin (AR) is an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) ligand specifically induced upon liver injury. Here, we have addressed the in vivo role of AR in experimental liver fibrosis. To this end, liver fibrosis was induced in AR+/+ and AR-/- mice by chronic CCl(4) administration. Histological and molecular markers of hepatic fibrogenesis were measured. Additionally, the response of cultured human and mouse liver fibrogenic cells to AR was evaluated. We observed that AR was expressed in isolated Kupffer cells and liver fibrogenic cells in response to inflamatory stimuli and platelet-derived growth factor, respectively.

We demonstrate that the expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin and collagen deposition were markedly reduced in AR-/- mice compared to AR+/+ animals. AR-/- mice also showed reduced expression of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 and connective tissue growth factor, two genes that responded to AR treatment in cultured fibrogenic cells. AR also stimulated cell proliferation and exerted a potent antiapoptotic effect on isolated fibrogenic cells. CONCLUSION: These results indicate that among the different EGFR ligands, AR plays a specific role in liver fibrosis.

AR may contribute to the expression of fibrogenic mediators, as well as to the growth and survival of fibrogenic cells. Additionally, our data lend further support to the role of the EGFR system in hepatic fibrogenesis.

CITATION  Hepatology. 2008 Oct;48(4):1251-61

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