J Hepatol 2008 Dec 7;49(6):955-64. Epub 2008 Oct 7.
Department of Medicine I, Division: Institute of Cancer Research, Medical University of Vienna, Borschkegasse 8a, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.
Background/aims: We studied the impact of heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor (HB-EGF) on inflammation-driven hepatocarcinogenesis.
Methods: HB-EGF expression was determined by qRT-PCR and immunodetection in hepatocellular adenoma and carcinoma and in mesenchymal (MC) and parenchymal liver cells obtained from different models of inflammation. The functions of HB-EGF in early hepatocarcinogenesis were assessed in co-cultures of unaltered and initiated/premalignant hepatocytes.
Results: In human and rat (pre)malignant liver lesions, HB-EGF levels were comparable to that of the surrounding tissue. In inflamed livers HB-EGF was expressed predominantly in MC and was further increased by pro-inflammatory lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or linoleic acid hydroperoxide (LOOH). In culture, DNA-replication occurred rather in initiated/premalignant than unaltered hepatocytes and was further elevated by LOOH- or LPS-stimulated MC-supernatants. The supernatant effects were abrogated by pre-incubation with HB-EGF-neutralizing antisera. HB-EGF itself induced DNA-replication and mitosis preferentially in the initiated/premalignant cells. When transducing hepatocytes with a dominant-negative ErbB1-construct, HB-EGF-induced DNA-replications were blocked completely in unaltered hepatocytes but incompletely in initiated/premalignant cells, which suggests elevated ErbB-mediated signal transduction in first stages of hepatocarcinogenesis.
Conclusions: Pro-inflammatory stimuli induce the release of HB-EGF from MC, which stimulates DNA-replication in initiated/premalignant hepatocytes. Similar mechanisms may contribute to carcinogenesis in human inflammatory liver diseases.