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Hepatology. 1999 Jun;29(6):1760-7.

In vitro migratory potential of rat quiescent hepatic stellate cells and its augmentation by cell activation.

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Department of Anatomy, Osaka City University Medical School, Osaka, Japan.


In liver injury, hepatic stellate cells are considered to depart from the sinusoidal wall and accumulate in the necrotic lesion through migration and proliferation. In this study, we investigated the migratory capacity of quiescent stellate cells in vitro and analyzed the relationship with proliferative response. Freshly isolated stellate cells that were seeded in the upper chamber of Cell Culture Insert (Becton Dickenson, Franklin Lakes, NJ) started to migrate to the lower chamber at 1 day and increased in migration index to 19% at 2 days. Cells in the lower chamber were stretched in shape with many lipid droplets and showed quiescent properties, i.e., negative expression of alpha-smooth muscle actin (alpha-SMA) or platelet-derived growth factor receptor-beta (PDGFR-beta). Migratory capacity in quiescent cells was also shown in the Matrigel-coated insert. Matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) messenger RNA expression was low just after isolation, but was enhanced as migration became prominent. Migrating cells further showed higher proliferative activity than resting ones. The presence of PDGF/BB and Kupffer cells accelerated stellate cell migration by the chemotactic mechanism and concurrently augmented proliferation, whereas that of dexamethasone and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) attenuated migration as a result of general suppression effects. Compared with quiescent ones, alpha-SMA and PDGFR-beta-positive activated stellate cells obtained by 14-day culture exhibited more rapid and prominent migration, being regulated by mediators in a similar manner as described previously. These data indicate that quiescent stellate cells undergo migration, which is linked to proliferation and enhanced by PDGF/BB and Kupffer cells, suggesting the involvement of this function in the initial phase of development of postnecrotic fibrosis.

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