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Keywords:

  • hepatocyte growth factor - c-met protein - human liver diseases

Abstract: Background: Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is a potent mitogen for hepatocytes in vivo as well as in vitro. Serum levels of HGF vary in liver diseases, reflecting liver damage and dysfunction. However there are no studies reporting expression of HGF and HGF receptor (c-met protein) simultaneously in various liver diseases. Methods: To clarify the clinical significance of HGF/c-met protein expression in liver diseases, liver tissues from 62 patients consisting of 7 with acute hepatitis (AH), 20 with chronic hepatitis (CH), 9 with liver cirrhosis (LC) and 26 with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) were immunohistochemically examined. Results: Intense staining of HGF was observed in patients from AH, CH and LC, although no immunoreactivity was seen in HCC. The expression of c-met protein was higher in patients with HCC and AH than in those with CH (p<0.05). A correlation of immunoreactivity between HGF and c-met protein was not observed except in patients with LC (p<0.01). The extent of c-met expression had no correlation with differentiation of HCC, tumour size, presence of portal invasion, or serum AFP levels. Conclusion: The results of the present study suggest that HGF plays an important role in human liver diseases, mostly in a manner independent of c-met protein expression.