Uncoupling protein-2 deficiency promotes oxidant stress and delays liver regeneration in mice



The control of liver regeneration remains elusive. Because reactive oxygen species (ROS) are able to mediate cell growth arrest and activate proteins that inhibit the cell cycle, ROS production may have a negative impact on liver regeneration. We examined how liver regeneration is affected by uncoupling protein-2 (UCP2), an inner mitochondrial membrane carrier that senses and negatively regulates superoxide production. Liver regeneration was monitored up to 5 days and was found to be significantly delayed in UCP2−/− mice after partial hepatectomy. Apoptosis rates in UCP2+/+ and UCP2− /− liver remnants were similar, while parameters of cell proliferation indicated a diminished response in UCP2− /− mice with corresponding changes in the expression of key cell cycle regulatory proteins and prolonged activation of stress-responsive protein kinase p38. Levels of malondialdehyde, a marker of ROS generation and oxidant stress, were elevated in UCP2− /− livers at every examined time point. Liver remnants of UCP2+ /+ mice 48 hours post-hepatectomy showed a fourfold increase in the expression of UCP2 protein primarily detected in hepatocytes. In conclusion, our results suggest that absent or insufficient UCP2 function in the regenerating liver results in increased ROS production and negatively modulates the control of cell cycle. (HEPATOLOGY 2004;39:386–392.)