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Br J Cancer. 2000 February; 82(4): 945–952.
PMCID: PMC2374397

Increased expression of HGF and c-met in rat small intestine during recovery from methotrexate-induced mucositis


Chemotherapy or radiotherapy often cause mucosal damage in the gut (gut mucositis) in cancer patients. As a step to investigate mechanisms underlying subsequent intestinal repair, we have examined the expression profiles of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and its receptor c-met, two molecules previously implicated in tissue repair, in comparison to the histopathological and proliferative changes in a rat model of methotrexate-induced small intestinal mucositis. Histological analysis of the intestinal specimens revealed crypt loss and villus atrophy with damage maximal on day 5 after methotrexate injection, and normalization of mucosal structure commencing on day 6. Crypt cell proliferation was decreased dramatically on day 3, normalized on day 4 and up-regulated on days 5 and 6. HGF and c-met protein/mRNA expression was up-regulated between days 4 and 7, with the mRNA co-localizing to the crypt and lower villus epithelium. Therefore, following methotrexate injection, a decrease in crypt cell proliferation preceded histological damage, and conversely, crypt cell hyperproliferation preceded mucosal regeneration. Up-regulation of HGF and c-met coincided with crypt hyperproliferation and mucosal recovery, suggesting a role for HGF in intestinal repair following acute injury. The crypt epithelial localization of HGF and c-met implies an autocrine or paracrine mechanism of HGF action. © 2000 Cancer Research Campaign

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