To analyze the aberrant expression of cell cycle-related proteins and their biological significance in relation to cirrhosis, we compared the cirrhotic patterns induced by two different types of cirrhotic agents, CCl4 and thioacetamide (TAA) in rats. CCl4 or TAA treatment was given to rats for 8 or 30 weeks, respectively, and the livers were removed at 9, 20, and 30 weeks after the experiment began. The TAA-induced fibrotic pattern was different from the CC14-induced one, in terms of the formation of fibrous connective tissue and the proliferation of bile ductule cells. Cholangiofibrosis and clear cell foci were also observed in TAA-treated rats at 30 weeks. Histological examination revealed severe cirrhotic changes at 9 weeks in CCl4-treated rats and at 30 weeks in TAA-treated rats. Immunoblotting for cyclin D1, E, A, B, and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and their counterpart protein kinases (CDK2, 4, and CDC2) showed significant overexpression in rats with severely cirrhotic livers. The p53 tumor suppressor protein increased dramatically in the CCl4-treated group, while it was not detected in the livers of TAA-treated rats. Upregulation of p21WAF1, a CDK inhibitory protein, was detected in TAA-treated rats, but not in CCl4-treated rats. Immunohistochemical data for cyclin D1, E, and PCNA were well correlated with immunoblotting data; these proteins were increased in hepatocytes surrounding the cirrhotic lesions, suggesting that hepatocyte regeneration is correlated with cell cycle-related protein expression in cirrhotic liver. In the TAA-treated rats, the expression of these proteins was increased both in hepatocytes and in ductule cells. Our data suggest that liver cirrhosis induced by CCl4 or TAA is associated with alterations in cell cycle-related proteins, and that the expression of these proteins is responsible for hepatocyte regeneration in the damaged liver and may be involved in liver carcinogenesis.
- Cell cycle-related proteins
- Liver cirrhosis