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Am J Pathol. 1997 Sep;151(3):651-7.

Osteonectin (SPARC) expression in human liver and in cultured human liver myofibroblasts.

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  • 1Groupe de Recherches pour l'Etude du Foie, Universit√© Bordeaux 2, France.


Osteonectin/SPARC is a glycoprotein involved in the regulation of cell shape, adhesion, migration, and proliferation. It also has complex effects on extracellular matrix synthesis and turnover. We found that osteonectin mRNA was very abundant in a human liver myofibroblast library. Using Northern and Western blot, immunoprecipitation, and radioimmunoassay, we found that cultured liver myofibroblasts actively secreted osteonectin. Myofibroblasts are very rare in normal liver but proliferate during liver fibrosis where they synthesize extracellular matrix components. Thus, we studied the distribution of osteonectin in normal and fibrotic human liver using in situ hybridization. Osteonectin mRNA expression was weak in normal liver but very high in fibrotic liver within fibrous septae and scattered sinusoidal cells. Serial sectioning and double staining experiments with an antibody to smooth muscle alpha-actin showed that osteonectin transcripts were mostly co-localized with myofibroblasts. In conclusion, osteonectin is highly expressed in human liver myofibroblasts in culture as well as in human liver fibrosis in vivo. The many biological properties of osteonectin make it a candidate effector of human liver fibrogenesis.

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