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Aberrant Notch3 and Notch4 expression in human hepatocellular carcinoma

Authors

  • Laura Gramantieri,

    1. Center for Applied Biomedical Research (CRBA), University of Bologna and St Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy
    2. Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, University of Bologna and St Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy
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    • *Contributed equally to this work.

  • Catia Giovannini,

    1. Center for Applied Biomedical Research (CRBA), University of Bologna and St Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy
    2. Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, University of Bologna and St Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy
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    • *Contributed equally to this work.

  • Arianna Lanzi,

    1. Center for Applied Biomedical Research (CRBA), University of Bologna and St Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy
    2. Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, University of Bologna and St Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy
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  • Pasquale Chieco,

    1. Center for Applied Biomedical Research (CRBA), University of Bologna and St Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy
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  • Matteo Ravaioli,

    1. Department of Surgery, University of Bologna and St Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy
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  • Annamaria Venturi,

    1. Center for Applied Biomedical Research (CRBA), University of Bologna and St Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy
    2. Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, University of Bologna and St Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy
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  • Gian Luca Grazi,

    1. Department of Surgery, University of Bologna and St Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy
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  • Luigi Bolondi

    1. Center for Applied Biomedical Research (CRBA), University of Bologna and St Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy
    2. Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, University of Bologna and St Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy
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Correspondence
Laura Gramantieri, MD, PhD, Divisione di Medicina Interna, Policlinico St Orsola-Malpighi, Via Albertoni, 15 40138 Bologna, Italy
Tel: +39 051 6362260
Fax: +39 051 6362725
e-mail: gramantieri@aosp.bo.it

Abstract

Background: Notch signalling is altered in several solid tumours and it plays a role in growth inhibition and apoptosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)-derived cell lines, bile duct development and hepatocyte regeneration.

Aims: This study aims to analyse the expression of Notch3, Notch4 and HES1 and HES6 as Notch-target genes in HCC, matched non-neoplastic tissue and HEPG2 cells.

Results: Notch3 and Notch4 are not expressed in normal liver and in chronic hepatitis surrounding HCC. Cirrhotic tissue stains negative for Notch3, while Notch4 is expressed by hepatocytes at the edge of regenerative nodules and in cell planes adjacent to fibrous septa. HCC tissue displays Notch3 and Notch4 abnormal accumulation, respectively, in 78% and 68% of the cases. The endothelium of hepatic veins with neoplastic permeation is frequently Notch4 positive. An upregulation of Notch3 mRNA was found in 95% of HCCs vs cirrhosis (P=0.0001), while Notch4 mRNA was downregulated in 80% of HCCs. HES6 mRNA expression was higher in HCC tissue when compared with cirrhosis (P=0.007), paralleling Notch3 mRNA expression. The HEPG2 cell line displays high Notch3 and low Notch4 protein and mRNA levels.

Conclusions: These descriptive findings suggest an aberrant expression of Notch3 and Notch4 in HCC and allow the hypothesis of an activation of Notch signalling by Notch3.

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