Research Papers:

Agrin para-secreted by PDGF-activated human hepatic stellate cells promotes hepatocarcinogenesis in vitro and in vivo

Xing Lv, Cheng Fang, Ruozhe Yin, Bowei Qiao, Runze Shang, Jianlin Wang, Wenjie Song, Yong He and Yong Chen _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:105340-105355. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.22186

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Xing Lv1,*, Cheng Fang1,*, Ruozhe Yin1, Bowei Qiao1, Runze Shang1, Jianlin Wang1, Wenjie Song1, Yong He1 and Yong Chen1

1Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an 710032, P.R. China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Yong Chen, email: [email protected]

Keywords: hepatocellular carcinoma; agrin; PDGF; sorafenib

Received: March 29, 2017    Accepted: July 25, 2017    Published: October 31, 2017


Evaluating the process and mechanism of fibrogenesis is essential in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), especially in hepatocyte transformation and oncogenic signaling. We evaluated the oncogenic role of agrin secreted by platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-induced hepatic stellate cell (HSC) in HCC. Cells were co-cultured to investigate the effect of activated HSC on hepatocytes. Liquid chromatography and protein profiling analysis were used to search the distinct proteins secreted in HSC supernatant. Sprague Dawley rats with Diethylnitrosamine (DEN)-induced HCC were used to simulate human liver cancer and sorafenib was administered to investigate its effect on hepatocarcinogenesis. A paired “two-tailed” Student t-test and chi-square tests was used for statistical analysis. PDGF acted as an activator of the HSC and sorafenib inhibits the activation by blocking the combination of PDGF and PDGF receptor. The supernatant of activated HSCs promoted the proliferation, metastasis, and invasion of HL-7702 and SMMC-7721, as well as epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Agrin found in the HSC supernatant showed the same effect on SMMC-7721 as to the supernatant of activated LX-2. Furthermore, downregulation of agrin by siRNA could decrease the proliferation, metastasis, and invasion of SMMC-7721, and promote MET. Sorafenib prevented DEN-induced hepatocarcinogenesis and could alleviate the liver inflammation and fibrosis. Sorafenib could improve the liver function of Sprague Dawley rats by decreasing the serum levels of ALT and AST. These results demonstrate thatPDGF is an effective activator of HSC and sorafenib could inhibit the activation. In vivo experiment suggested sorafenib could alleviate the hepatocarcinogenesis mediated through agrin secretion and could be potential candidate for treatment of cirrhosis.

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