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Logo of jcinvestThe Journal of Clinical InvestigationCurrent IssueArchiveSubscriptionAbout the Journal
J Clin Invest. Jul 1995; 96(1): 42–49.
PMCID: PMC185171

Growth inhibitory properties of endothelin-1 in human hepatic myofibroblastic Ito cells. An endothelin B receptor-mediated pathway.


Ito cells play a pivotal role in the development of liver fibrosis associated with chronic liver diseases. During this process, Ito cells acquire myofibroblastic features, proliferate, and synthesize fibrosis components. Considering the reported mitogenic properties of endothelin-1 (ET-1), we investigated its effects on the proliferation of human Ito cells in their myofibroblastic phenotype. Both ET receptor A (ETA: 20%) and ET receptor B (ETB: 80%) binding sites were identified, using a selective ETA antagonist, BQ 123, and a selective ETB agonist, sarafotoxin S6C (SRTX-C). ET-1 did not stimulate proliferation of myofibroblastic Ito cells. In contrast, ET-1 inhibited by 60% DNA synthesis and proliferation of cells stimulated with either human serum or platelet-derived growth factor -BB (PDGF-BB). PD 142893, a nonselective ETA/ETB antagonist totally blunted this effect. SRTX-C was as potent as ET-1, while BQ 123 did not affect ET-1-induced growth inhibition. Analysis of the intermediate steps leading to growth-inhibition by ET-1 revealed that activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase by serum or PDGF-BB was decreased by 50% in the presence of SRTX-C. In serum-stimulated cells, SRTX-C reduced c-jun mRNA expression by 50% whereas c-fos or krox 24 mRNA expression were not affected. We conclude that ET-1 binding to ETB receptors causes a potent growth inhibition of human myofibroblastic Ito cells, which suggests that this peptide could play a key role in the negative control of liver fibrogenesis. Our results also point out that, in addition to its well known promitogenic effects, ET-1 may also exert negative control of growth on specific cells.

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