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Abstract

It has been suggested that the tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 (TIMP-1) is involved in spontaneous resolution of liver fibrosis. The aim of this study was to investigate whether TIMP-1 altered spontaneous resolution of liver fibrosis in conjunction with matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) inhibition and hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activation. The livers of liver-targeted TIMP-1 transgenic (TIMP-Tg) and control hybrid (Cont) mice were harvested at 0, 3, 7, and 28 days following spontaneous recovery from CCl4-induced liver fibrosis. The extent of fibrosis resolution, MMP expression, α-smooth-muscle actin (α-SMA) positive cells, and procollagen-(I) messenger RNA (mRNA) in the liver were assessed at the respective periods in both groups. We also examined the effect of TIMP-1 on HSC apoptosis. The TIMP-Tg mice showed significantly attenuated resolution of spontaneous liver fibrosis compared with the Cont mice. The hydroxyproline content, number of α-SMA positive cells, and procollagen-(I) mRNA rapidly decreased with time in the Cont mice, whereas these markers were little changed in TIMP-Tg mice. The level of the active form of metalloproteinases-2 (MMP-2) in the TIMP-Tg mice was less than that in the Cont mice. TIMP-1 markedly decreased the nonparenchyma apoptotic cells in the liver fibrosis resolution model, and it also inhibited HSC apoptosis associated with suppression of caspase-3 activity in vitro. In conclusion, TIMP-1 significantly attenuated spontaneous resolution of liver fibrosis by the combination of a net reduction of the MMP activity and suppression of apoptosis in HSC.