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1.  Liver myofibroblasts up-regulate monocyte CD163 expression via PGE2 during hepatitis B induced liver failure 
Background
Although patients with liver failure exhibit a generalized inflammatory-imbalance status, substantial evidence indicates that this immunosuppressive or anti-inflammatory state may be deleterious. Increased expression of CD163 (known to be involved in several anti-inflammatory functions of the immune system) in patients with liver failure is significantly correlated with a fatal outcome. However, little is known of the regulatory mechanisms that influence the expression of CD163.
Methods
We assessed the expression of CD163 on monocytes from both circulating cells and the liver tissues of patients with hepatitis B induced liver failure using flow cytometry and isolated the myofibroblasts from diseased livers. The ability of human liver myofibroblasts to regulate CD163 expression on monocytes was studied in vitro.
Results
We showed that CD163+ monocytes were enriched primarily in diseased livers and that they were associated with liver myofibroblasts in the same area. Accordingly, liver myofibroblasts were significantly superior to normal skin fibroblasts in inducing the expression of CD163 on monocytes in vitro. Moreover, we found that liver myofibroblasts triggered the activation of monocytes by secreting PGE2. Inhibition of PGE2 production in liver myofibroblasts using NS-398 markedly reduced CD163 expression in vitro.
Conclusion
These results suggest that liver myofibroblasts play a direct role in regulating the expression of CD163 on monocytes in human liver tissues and thereby may regulate monocyte function during hepatitis B induced liver failure.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-12-60
PMCID: PMC4015181  PMID: 24597777
Monocyte activation; CD163 expression; Liver failure; Liver myofibroblasts; Hepatitis B virus
2.  LARP1 predict the prognosis for early-stage and AFP-normal hepatocellular carcinoma 
Background
The La-related protein 1 (LARP1) has been found to be a RNA binding protein and was related to spermatogenesis, embryogenesis and cell-cycle progression. The aim of this study was to investigate the prognostic value of LARP1 in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Methods
LARP1 expression was examined in 15 HCC cell lines and 272 clinical specimens using real-time PCR, immunohistochemistry (IHC) and western blot analysis (WB). LARP1 expression was also studied in 6 paired HCC lesions and the adjacent non-cancerous tissue samples. Statistical analyses were applied to derive association between LARP1 expression scores and clinical characters as well as patient survival.
Results
mRNA and protein levels of LARP1 were higher in HCC cell lines and HCC lesions than in normal liver epithelial cells and the paired adjacent noncancerous tissues. LARP1 expression was correlated to survival time, vital status, tumor size and Child-Pugh score. Overall survival analysis showed HCC patients with high LARP1 expression level had lower survival rate (P < 0.01). Importantly, this correlation remained significant in patients with early-stage HCC or with normal serum AFP level.
Conclusions
LARP1 protein may represent a promising biomarker for predicting the prognosis of HCC, including in early-stage and AFP-normal patients.
doi:10.1186/1479-5876-11-272
PMCID: PMC3814951  PMID: 24159927
LARP1; Hepatocellular carcinoma; AFP; Prognosis
3.  MACC1 as a Prognostic Biomarker for Early-Stage and AFP-Normal Hepatocellular Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64235.
Background
The metastasis-associated in colon cancer 1 gene (MACC1) has been found to be associated with cancer development and progression. The aim of this study was to investigate the prognostic value of MACC1 in early-stage and AFP-normal hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Methods
mRNA and protein levels of MACC1 expression in one normal liver epithelial cells THLE3 and 15 HCC cell lines were examined using reverse transcription-PCR and Western blot. MACC1 expression was also comparatively studied in 6 paired HCC lesions and the adjacent non-cancerous tissue samples. Immunohistochemistry was employed to analyze MACC1 expression in 308 clinicopathologically characterized HCC cases. Statistical analyses were applied to derive association between MACC1 expression scores and clinical staging as well as patient survival.
Results
Levels of MACC1 mRNA and protein were higher in HCC cell lines and HCC lesions than in normal liver epithelial cells and the paired adjacent noncancerous tissues. Significant difference in MACC1 expression was found in patients of different TNM stages (P<0.001). Overall survival analysis showed that high MACC1 expression level correlated with lower survival rate (P = 0.001). Importantly, an inverse correlation between MACC1 level and patient survival remained significant in subjects with early-stage HCC or with normal serum AFP level.
Conclusions
MACC1 protein may represent a promising biomarker for predicting the prognosis of HCC, including in early-stage and AFP-normal patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064235
PMCID: PMC3662710  PMID: 23717574
4.  HGF and Direct Mesenchymal Stem Cells Contact Synergize to Inhibit Hepatic Stellate Cells Activation through TLR4/NF-kB Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43408.
Aims
Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) can reduce liver fibrosis. Apart from the paracrine mechanism by which the antifibrotic effects of BMSCs inhibit activated hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), the effects of direct interplay and juxtacrine signaling between the two cell types are poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to explore the underlying mechanisms by which BMSCs modulate the function of activated HSCs.
Methods
We used BMSCs directly and indirectly co-culture system with HSCs to evaluate the anti-fibrosis effect of BMSCs. Cell proliferation and activation were examined in the presence of BMSCs and HGF. c-met was knockdown in HSCs to evaluate the effect of HGF secreted by BMSCs. The TLR4 and Myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88(MyD88) mRNA levels and the NF-kB pathway activation were determined by real-time PCR and western blotting analyses. The effect of BMSCs on HSCs activation was investigated in vitro in either MyD88 silencing or overexpression in HSCs. Liver fibrosis in rats fed CCl4 with and without BMSCs supplementation was compared. Histopathological examinations and serum biochemical tests were compared between the two groups.
Results
BMSCs remarkably inhibited the proliferation and activation of HSCs by interfering with LPS-TLR4 pathway through a cell–cell contact mode that was partially mediated by HGF secretion. The NF-kB pathway is involved in HSCs activation inhibition by BMSCs. MyD88 over expression reduced the BMSC inhibition of NF-kB luciferase activation. BMSCs protected liver fibrosis in vivo.
Conclusion
BMSCs modulate HSCs in vitro via TLR4/MyD88/NF-kB signaling pathway through cell–cell contact and secreting HGF. BMSCs have therapeutic effects on cirrhosis rats. Our results provide new insights into the treatment of hepatic fibrosis with BMSCs.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043408
PMCID: PMC3426540  PMID: 22927965
5.  Upregulator of Cell Proliferation Predicts Poor Prognosis in Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Contributes to Hepatocarcinogenesis by Downregulating FOXO3a 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40607.
Objective
The goal of the present study was to investigate the potential correlation between the expression level of upregulator of cell proliferation (URGCP/URG4) and the prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and to examine the biological function of URGCP/URG4 in the progression of HCC, to better understand its underlying molecular mechanism in hepatic tumorigenesis.
Design
URGCP/URG4 expression was analyzed in 15 HCC cell lines, in 278 archived paraffin-embedded HCC sections, and in 10 pairs of fresh HCC tumor and para-tumor non-cancerous tissues using immunohistochemistry (IHC) and Western blotting analysis (WB). The effect of URGCP/URG4 on cell proliferation and tumorigenesis was examined in vitro and in vivo. WB and luciferase reporter analyses were performed to identify the effects of URGCP/URG4-overexpression or -knockdown on expression of cell cycle regulators and transcriptional activity of FOXO3a.
Results
IHC results revealed an upregulation of URGCP/URG4 in all HCC cell lines and fresh HCC samples as compared with normal liver cells and para-tumor tissues, respectively. URGCP/URG4 was also expressed at a high level in 122 of the 278 (43.8%) archived HCC specimens. The expression level of URGCP/URG4 was significantly correlated with clinical staging and poor patient survival of HCC in the study cohort, and in various clinical subgroups. Strikingly, ectopic expression of URGCP/URG4 induced proliferation and anchorage-independent growth of HCC cells, while silencing of URGCP/URG4 had the opposite effect. Furthermore, URGCP/URG4 overexpression in HCC cells increased cellular entry into the G1/S transitional phase, associated with downregulation of p27Kip1 and p21Cip1 and upregulation of cyclin D1. These effects were accompanied by enhanced Akt activity and reduced FOXO3a transcriptional activity.
Conclusions
URGCP/URG4 plays an important role in promoting proliferation and tumorigenesis of HCC and may represent a novel prognostic biomarker and therapeutic target for this disease.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040607
PMCID: PMC3398045  PMID: 22815774

Results 1-5 (5)