1. State Key Laboratory of Oncogenes and Related Genes, Renji-Med X Clinical Stem Cell Research Center, Department of Liver Surgery, Ren Ji Hospital, School of Biomedical Engineering, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China
2. Laboratory of liver diseases, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, 20892, USA
The initial process in liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy involves the recruitment of immune cells and the release of cytokines. Osteopontin (OPN), a pro-inflammatory protein, plays critical roles in immune cell activation and migration. Although OPN has been implicated in the pathogenesis of many liver diseases, the role of OPN in liver regeneration remains obscure. In the present study, we found that serum and hepatic OPN protein levels were significantly elevated in wild-type (WT) mice after partial hepatectomy (PHx) and that bile ductal epithelia were the major cell source of hepatic OPN. Compared to WT mice, OPN knockout (KO) mice exhibited delayed liver regeneration after PHx. This delay in OPN-/- mice was attributed to impaired hepatic infiltration of macrophages and neutrophils, decreased serum and hepatic IL-6 levels, and blunted activation of macrophages after PHx. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the attenuated activation of macrophages is at least partially due to decreased hepatic and portal vein LPS levels in OPN-/- mice. In response to decreased IL-6 levels, the activation of signal transducer and transcription (Stat) 3 was reduced in hepatocytes of OPN-/- mice compared to WT mice after PHx. Consequently, hepatic activation of the downstream direct targets of IL6/Stat3, such as c-fos, c-jun, and c-myc, was also suppressed post-PHx in OPN-/- mice compared to WT mice. Collectively, these results support a unique role for OPN during the priming phase of liver regeneration, in which OPN enhances the recruitment of macrophages and neutrophils, and triggers hepatocyte proliferation through Kupffer cell-derived IL-6 release and the downstream activation of Stat3.
Keywords: Osteopontin, partial hepatectomy, liver regeneration, Kupffer cell, IL-6, Stat3