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Exp Cell Res. 1987 Sep;172(1):228-42.

Stimulation of growth of primary cultured adult rat hepatocytes without growth factors by coculture with nonparenchymal liver cells.

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  • 1Division of Enzyme Pathology, University of Tokushima, Japan.


DNA synthesis of adult rat parenchymal hepatocytes alone in primary culture can be stimulated only by the addition of humoral growth factors to the culture medium. However, when parenchymal hepatocytes were cocultured with nonparenchymal liver cells from adult rats, their DNA synthesis was markedly stimulated in the absence of added growth factors or calf serum. DNA synthesis of parenchymal hepatocytes was not stimulated by conditioned medium from nonparenchymal liver cells and was greatest when the parenchymal cells were plated on 24-h cultures of nonparenchymal liver cells. A dead feeder layer of nonparenchymal cells was almost as effective as a feeder layer of viable nonparenchymal cells. These results suggest that the stimulation of DNA synthesis in parenchymal hepatocytes was not due to some soluble factors secreted by nonparenchymal liver cells but to an insoluble material(s) produced by the nonparenchymal liver cells. This insoluble material(s) was collagenase- and acid-sensitive, suggesting that it was a protein containing collagen. The effect of nonparenchymal liver cells was specific: coculture with hepatoma cells, liver epithelial cells, or Swiss 3T3 cells did not stimulate DNA synthesis in parenchymal hepatocytes. Added insulin and epidermal growth factor showed additive effects with nonparenchymal cells in the cocultures. These results suggest that DNA synthesis in parenchymal hepatocytes is stimulated not only by various humoral growth factors but also by cell-cell interaction between parenchymal and nonparenchymal hepatocytes, possibly endothelial cells. This cell-cell interaction may be important in repair of liver damage and liver regeneration.

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