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J Hepatol. 2007 Jun;46(6):1055-63. Epub 2007 Mar 8.

Treatment with 2-AAF blocks the small hepatocyte-like progenitor cell response in retrorsine-exposed rats.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Curriculum in Toxicology, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.



Liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy (PH) in retrorsine-exposed rats is accomplished through proliferation and differentiation of small hepatocyte-like progenitor cells (SHPCs). The cells of origin of SHPCs are not known. We investigated the possibility that SHPCs are directly derived from oval cells, a known liver progenitor cell, by combining the retrorsine/PH (RP) model with 2-acetamidofluorene (2-AAF), an anti-mitotic agent that elicits an oval cell reaction in response to liver deficit.


Male Fischer 344 rats were treated with retrorsine (30 mg/kg ip) at 6 and 8 weeks of age, with PH 5 weeks after the final treatment. Seven days prior to PH, a 21-day 2-AAF (50mg) time-release pellet was inserted subcutaneously. Livers were harvested at 3, 7, 10, 14, and 21-days post-PH.


Liver sections from animals treated with 2-AAF/retrorsine/PH (2-AAF/RP) contain significant numbers of proliferating oval cells, but no SHPCs at 7-days post-PH, while RP animals exhibit significant numbers of SHPCs and minimal oval cell reaction. Between 10 and 14-days post-PH, new hepatocyte clusters appear in 2-AAF/RP treated rats. Labeling of proliferating oval cells with BrdU at 6-days post-PH demonstrated that these new hepatocytes represent the progeny of differentiating oval cells.


The observed differences in progenitor cell responses between 2-AAF/RP and RP animals strongly suggest that SHPCs are not the progeny of oval cell precursors, but represent an independent liver progenitor cell population.

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