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Gene Expr. 2016;17(1):19-34. doi: 10.3727/105221616X691631. Epub 2016 May 24.

Thyroid Hormone Receptor β Agonist Induces β-Catenin-Dependent Hepatocyte Proliferation in Mice: Implications in Hepatic Regeneration.

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Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


Triiodothyronine (T3) induces hepatocyte proliferation in rodents. Recent work has shown molecular mechanism for T3's mitogenic effect to be through activation of β-catenin signaling. Since systemic side effects of T3 may preclude its clinical use, and hepatocytes mostly express T3 hormone receptor β (TRβ), we investigated if selective TRβ agonists like GC-1 may also have β-catenin-dependent hepatocyte mitogenic effects. Here we studied the effect of GC-1 and T3 in conditional knockouts of various Wnt pathway components. We also assessed any regenerative advantage of T3 or GC-1 when given prior to partial hepatectomy in mice. Mice administered GC-1 showed increased pSer675-β-catenin, cyclin D1, BrdU incorporation, and PCNA. No abnormalities in liver function tests were noted. GC-1-injected liver-specific β-catenin knockouts (β-catenin LKO) showed decreased proliferation when compared to wild-type littermates. To address if Wnt signaling was required for T3- or GC-1-mediated hepatocyte proliferation, we used LRP5-6-LKO, which lacks the two redundant Wnt coreceptors. Surprisingly, decreased hepatocyte proliferation was also evident in LRP5-6-LKO in response to T3 and GC-1, despite increased pSer675-β-catenin. Further, increased levels of active β-catenin (hypophosphorylated at Ser33, Ser37, and Thr41) were evident after T3 and GC-1 treatment. Finally, mice pretreated with T3 or GC-1 for 7 days followed by partial hepatectomy showed a significant increase in hepatocyte proliferation both at the time (T0) and 24 h after surgery. In conclusion, like T3, TRβ-selective agonists induce hepatocyte proliferation through β-catenin activation via both PKA- and Wnt-dependent mechanisms and confer a regenerative advantage following surgical resection. Hence, these agents may be useful regenerative therapies in liver transplantation or other surgical settings.

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