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Am J Pathol. 2002 Feb;160(2):641-54.

Insights into the pathobiology of hepatitis C virus-associated cirrhosis: analysis of intrahepatic differential gene expression.

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A. W. Morrow Gastroenterology and Liver Centre, Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia.


The pathogenesis of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-associated liver injury involves many genes from multiple pathogenic pathways. cDNA array analysis, which examines the expression of many genes simultaneously, was used to achieve new insights into HCV liver injury. Membrane-based cDNA arrays of 874 genes compared HCV-associated cirrhosis with autoimmune hepatitis-associated cirrhosis as an inflammatory and cirrhotic control, and with nondiseased liver tissue. Array analysis identified many differentially expressed genes that are important in inflammation, fibrosis, proliferation, signaling, apoptosis, and oxidative stress. Genes up-regulated in HCV-associated cirrhosis were predominantly associated with a Th1 immune response, fibrosis, cellular proliferation, and apoptosis. Novel observations of differential gene expression included increased expression of secreted apoptosis-related protein 3, a Wnt pathway gene possibly involved in cellular apoptosis. EMMPRIN (CD147) and discoidin domain receptor 1 (CD167) were also shown to be increased and are likely to play a role in liver fibrosis. Real-time quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction confirmed the increased expression of 15 genes. The comparison of HCV cirrhosis with autoimmune hepatitis cirrhosis showed a marked difference in the apoptosis-associated gene profile with HCV cirrhosis characterized by increased proapoptotic gene expression whereas autoimmune hepatitis was characterized by increased expression of both antiapoptotic and proapoptotic genes. Furthermore, expression of beta-catenin and the fibrosis-associated protein EMMPRIN were localized by immunohistochemistry to the plasma membranes of hepatocytes and biliary epithelium. In conclusion, HCV-associated cirrhosis was characterized by a proinflammatory, profibrotic, and proapoptotic gene expression profile.

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