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Open Access Hepatocyte Wnts Are Dispensable During Diethylnitrosamine and Carbon Tetrachloride-Induced Injury and Hepatocellular Cancer

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Activation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling is reported in large subsets of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Upregulation of Wnt genes is one contributing mechanism. In the current study, we sought to address the role of hepatocyte-derived Wnts in a model of hepatic injury, fibrosis, and carcinogenesis. We subjected hepatocyte-specific Wntless knockout mice (HP-KO), unable to secrete Wnts from hepatocytes, and littermate controls (HP-CON) to diethylnitrosamine and carbon tetrachloride (DEN/CCl4) and harvested at 3, 5, and 6 months for histological and molecular analysis. Analysis at 5 months displayed increased hepatic expression of several Wnts and upregulation of some, but not all, β-catenin targets, without mutations in Ctnnb1. At 5 months, HP-CON and HP-KO had comparable tumor burden and injury; however, HP-KO uniquely showed small CK19+ foci within tumors. At 6 months, both groups were moribund with comparable tumor burden and CK19 positivity. While HCC histology was indistinguishable between the groups, HP-KO exhibited increased active β-catenin and decreased c-Myc, Brd4, E-cadherin, and others. Hepatic injury, inflammation, and fibrosis were also indistinguishable at 3 months between both groups. Thus, lack of Wnt secretion from hepatocytes did not affect overall injury, fibrosis, or HCC burden, although there were protein expression differences in the tumors occurring in the two groups.
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Keywords: Carbon tetrachloride; Diethylnitrosamine; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Wnt; β-Catenin

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Publication date: 22 August 2018

This article was made available online on 08 March 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "Hepatocyte Wnts are dispensable during diethylnitrosamine and carbon tetrachloride-induced injury and hepatocellular cancer".

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  • Gene Expression, The Journal of Liver Research will publish articles in all aspects of hepatology. Hepatology, as a research discipline, has seen unprecedented growth especially in the cellular and molecular mechanisms of hepatic health and disease, which continues to have a major impact on understanding liver development, stem cells, carcinogenesis, tissue engineering, injury, repair, regeneration, immunology, metabolism, fibrosis, and transplantation. Continued research and improved understanding in these areas will have a meaningful impact on liver disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The existing journal Gene Expression has expanded its focus to become Gene Expression, The Journal of Liver Research to meet this growing demand. In its revised and expanded scope, the journal will publish high-impact original articles, reviews, short but complete articles, and special articles (editorials, commentaries, opinions) on all aspects of hepatology, making it a unique and invaluable resource for readers interested in this field. The expanded team, led by an Editor-in-Chief who is uniquely qualified and a renowned expert, along with a dynamic and functional editorial board, is determined to make this a premier journal in the field of hepatology.
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