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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

In vivo differentiation of rat liver oval cells into hepatocytes.

The Solt-Farber protocol, in the absence of an initiating agent, was used to examine the precursor-product relationship between oval cells and hepatocytes in rat liver. The animals were administered 2-acetylaminofluorene (AAF) by gavage for 2 wk combined with partial hepatectomy 1 wk after administering AAF Two dose levels of AAF were used: 9- and 21-mg total dose for animals in Groups I and II, respectively. [3H]Thymidine was administered i.p. to one-half of the animals at Day 6 post-partial hepatectomy. Animals were sacrificed 7, 9, 11, and 13 days after surgery. Only oval cells became labeled on Day 7 in both groups. On Day 9 both labeled oval cells and labeled basophilic hepatocytes were present in Group I, whereas in Group II only oval cells remained labeled. On Days 11 and 13 both oval cells and basophilic hepatocytes were labeled in both groups. The total amount of radioactivity in Group II livers remained the same on Day 9 when only labeled oval cells were present and on Days 11 and 13 when both labeled oval cells and labeled basophilic hepatocytes were present. The calculated half-life for basophilic hepatocytes was about 50 h. The differentiation of oval cells into basophilic hepatocytes was delayed in Group II as compared to Group I, and the higher dose of AAF also induced the formation of both intestinal metaplasia and bile duct formation. In situ hybridization with an alpha-fetoprotein probe showed a strong expression in groups of typical oval cells and in cells arranged in duct-like structures. In addition a transient expression of AFP was also observed in the areas of basophilic hepatocytes 9 to 11 days after partial hepatectomy. Administration of AAF decreased the level of albumin mRNA in preexisting hepatocytes and caused a significant decrease of serum albumin. In contrast, oval cells showed a strong albumin expression, and basophilic hepatocytes formed islands of albumin-expressing cells. Oval cells and the foci of early basophilic hepatocytes lacked glucose-6-phosphatase activity. At Day 13 significant numbers of basophilic hepatocytes were positive for glucose-6-phosphatase. Oval cells were strongly gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase positive, whereas the foci of basophilic hepatocytes were negative for gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase. Only occasionally were transiently gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase-positive hepatocytes observed in basophilic foci. In summary our data indicate that oval cells can differentiate to hepatocytes and may have an important physiological function as a source of major serum proteins when hepatocytes are unable to synthesize these proteins.[1]


  1. In vivo differentiation of rat liver oval cells into hepatocytes. Evarts, R.P., Nagy, P., Nakatsukasa, H., Marsden, E., Thorgeirsson, S.S. Cancer Res. (1989) [Pubmed]
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