Abstract: Background: Expression of neurotrophins (NTs) and their receptors is increased during hepatic regeneration, but their role is not well understood.
Methods: NTs and their receptors were investigated by RT-PCR and immunostaining in regenerating livers after two-thirds hepatectomy (PH) and in hepatocytes and hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) isolated from regenerating livers in mice. Induction of apoptosis after treatment with NGF and the expression of α-smooth muscle actin (SMA), interleukin 6 (IL-6) and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) were also investigated in regenerating HSCs.
Results: Nerve growth factor (NGF) and p75 NT receptor (p75NTR) mRNA were elevated after PH, while other NTs and NT receptors showed no remarkable change. NGF was detected in regenerating hepatocytes, but not in normal hepatocytes. Regenerating HSCs expressed increased p75NTR and SMA in vivo and showed an activated phenotype and the high expression of HGF and IL-6 in vitro. Enhanced cell death was seen in HSCs, both from normal and regenerating liver, after treatment with NGF.
Conclusions: Although activated HSCs may produce the factors that regulate liver regeneration, the de novo NGF production by regenerating hepatocytes may induce the death of activated HSCs via p75NTR, leading to termination of hepatic regeneration.