Send to

Choose Destination
J Hepatol. 2000 Dec;33(6):915-25.

Cholestasis-induced fibrosis is reduced by interferon alpha-2a and is associated with elevated liver metalloprotease activity.

Author information

Institute of Molecular Biology in Medicine, CUCS, University of Guadalajara, Jal, Mexico.



Several drugs have been tested for the treatment of hepatic cirrhosis induced by various etiologic agents. Although interferon (IFN)alpha-2a has mostly been used to treat viral hepatitis, its anti-fibrogenic properties remain to be established.


An experimental model of cholestasis-induced cirrhosis was used to test the effect of IFNalpha-2a. Cirrhosis was induced in rats via ligation of the common bile duct. IFNalpha-2a (100,000 IU/rat, s.c.) was administered daily throughout the experiment. Collagens and TIMP-1 mRNA transcripts were determined by semi-quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction in liver tissue samples. Activity of metalloproteases (MMPs) was measured using gelatin (denatured collagen) as substrate and the specific size of the enzymes was estimated by zymograms. Histology was performed using Sirius red as a specific stain for collagenous material, and computer-assisted morphometric analyses were carried out. A polyclonal mouse anti-plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1) antibody was used to evaluate the distribution during treatment with IFNalpha-2a.


MMP-activity was up-regulated in bile duct ligated rats treated with IFNalpha-2a. MMP-activity in homogenates of total liver was minimal as compared with activity in non-parenchymal cells isolated from the same parental perfused liver, indicating a cryptic MMP activity which was completely abolished by EDTA and 1,10 phenanthroline. Three bands of gelatin degradation were detected by zymography, corresponding to 95, 75 and 65 kDa. IFNalpha-2a decreased PAI-1 immunoreactivity in liver tissue slices as well as biochemical activity in non-parenchymal cell extracts (3.3+/-0.08 vs 7.4+/-1.1 U/mg protein). Procollagen alpha1 (III) and alpha1 (IV) genes expression were also down-regulated 1.5 and 4-fold, respectively. Interestingly, TIMP-1 gene expression did not change. Functional hepatic tests: alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, bilirubins and alkaline phosphatase were significantly lower in IFNalpha-2a treated animals. Analysis of histology demonstrated that IFNalpha-2a promoted resolution of fibrosis and decreased bile duct proliferation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center