• rat;
  • HSC;
  • hepatocyte;
  • conditioned medium;
  • mitogen

Abstract:Background/Aims: Hepatic stellate cells (HSC) are located in close proximity to hepatocytes in Disse's space. Hepatocyte derived factors have earlier been implicated in the paracrine regulation of HSC proliferation. The aim of the present study was to further characterize this mitogenic activity of the parenchymal cell conditioned medium (PCcM). Methods: Primary rat HSC were cultured for 4 days. DNA synthesis was measured by 3H-thymidine incorporation. TGFβ1 immunoreactivity was quantified by ELISA. PCcM was obtained from hepatocytes cultured in medium without serum or hormones for two days. Results: Incubation of 4-day-old HSC on plastic surface with PCcM for 2 days increased DNA synthesis, while no effect was seen in HSC cultured on Matrigel. Heat-, acid-, and protease-treatment of PCcM abolished its stimulatory effect. Size fractionations with spin columns indicated that the stimulatory effect was contained in the fractions of a molecular size between 30 and 100 kD. The addition of LY 294002, a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K) inhibitor, dose-dependently inhibited the PCcM induced increase in DNA synthesis to about 9% of the control values. The specific MAP kinase (MAPK) inhibitor, PD 98059 only suppressed the PCcM induced DNA synthesis to 35% of control cultures at the highest dose (10 μM). DNA content in the cultures was not affected by either blocker. HSC seemed to produce immunoreactive TGFβ1. However, addition of latency-associated peptide (LAP), a potent TGFβ1 blocker, stimulated DNA synthesis to a much less extent than PCcM. Conclusions: The factor(s) that stimulate DNA synthesis in HSC from hepatocytes are most likely protein(s) with a molecular size between 30–100 kD. These factor(s) rely more on PI3-K than on MAPK for their mitogenic effect and are probably not acting via TGFβ1 inhibition.