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NF-kappaB determines between apoptosis and proliferation in hepatocytes during liver regeneration.

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Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Medizinische Hochschule, 30625 Hannover, Germany.


Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha is a potent inducer of apoptotic cell death in various tissues, whereas the transcription factor nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB is essential to protect against TNF-alpha-induced apoptosis. Human hepatoma cell lines were used to investigate the effectiveness and specificity of the fungal metabolite gliotoxin in inhibiting TNF-alpha-induced NF-kappaB activation in transformed cells. Gliotoxin-TNF-alpha cotreatment induced massive apoptosis in these otherwise TNF-alpha-resistant cell lines. With the use of the mouse partial hepatectomy model, we were also able to demonstrate in vivo the capacity of gliotoxin to act as inhibitor of NF-kappaB activation. Bromodeoxyuridine staining of liver sections showed that the lack of NF-kappaB activation correlated with 80% reduction of DNA synthesis 48 h after hepatectomy compared with untreated controls. Additionally, animals treated with gliotoxin showed nuclear condensation and DNA laddering of hepatocytes indicative of apoptosis 24 h after hepatectomy. In summary, our results demonstrate that NF-kappaB is essential in defining the fate of liver cells in response to TNF-alpha in vivo and furthermore implicate gliotoxin as a potential new response modifier for TNF-alpha-based therapy.

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