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Tissue Cell. 2004 Oct;36(5):293-305.

Hyaluronic acid inhibits adhesion of hepatic stellate cells in spite of its stimulation of DNA synthesis.

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  • 1National Research Laboratory, College of Pharmacy and Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Seoul National University, Sillim-dong, Kwanak-gu, Seoul 151-742, South Korea.


Unbalanced accumulation of fibers in extracellular matrix (ECM) results from attachment and activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) during chronic liver diseases, in which the content of hyaluronic acid (HA), a glycosaminoglycan, in ECM changes. No information is available on the effect of HA on adhesion and activation of HSCs although that of collagen (Col) on HSCs was extensively studied. This study investigated the effects of HA with or without Col on adhesion of HSCs or the rate of DNA synthesis. Attachment of primary cultured HSCs was microscopically monitored in the plate simultaneously coated with HA or other ECM components. HA inhibited adhesion of quiescent HSCs at least up to 7 days after seeding, whereas HSCs were adherent to plastic or type I collagen (Col-I), type III collagen (Col-III), type IV collagen (Col-IV) or fibronectin. Both microscopy and alpha-smooth muscle actin immunocytochemistry revealed that the number of HSCs, which had been re-seeded after 15 days of culture, attached to HA-coated area was remarkably lower compared to that of HSCs on Col-I or plastic. Incorporation of HA into Col-I prevented adhesion of activated HSCs to matrix film. The number of HSCs adherent to HA at early times after seeding was minimal and significantly lower than that of the cells adherent to plastic. In contrast, either Col-I or Col-IV increased the number of adherent cells. Attachment of HSCs to plastic was inhibited by soluble HA in culture medium. CD44, the cell surface receptor to which HA binds, was immunochemically detected in HSCs. Adhesion of HSCs to plastic, HA or Col-I was not changed by anti-CD44 antibody. Either HA or Col increased the basal or platelet-derived growth factor-inducible rate of thymidine incorporation into DNA in HSCs. In conclusion, HA inhibits adhesion of quiescent or activated HSCs in spite of its stimulation of DNA synthesis, whereas Col increases HSC attachment and DNA synthesis, and inhibition of HSC adhesion by HA does not involve CD44.

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