Exp Cell Res. 2014 Nov 1;328(2):429-43.

Adenoviral overexpression of Lhx2 attenuates cell viability but does not preserve the stem cell like phenotype of hepatic stellate cells.

Genz B, Thomas M, Pützer BM, Siatkowski M, Fuellen G, Vollmar B, Abshagen K.
Hepatic stellate cells (HSC) are well known initiators of hepatic fibrosis. After liver cell damage, HSC transdifferentiate into proliferative myofibroblasts, representing the major source of extracellular matrix in the fibrotic organ. Recent studies also demonstrate a role of HSC as progenitor or stem cell like cells in liver regeneration. Lhx2 is described as stem cell maintaining factor in different organs and as an inhibitory transcription factor in HSC activation. Here we examined whether a continuous expression of Lhx2 in HSC could attenuate their activation and whether Lhx2 could serve as a potential target for antifibrotic gene therapy. Therefore, we evaluated an adenoviral mediated overexpression of Lhx2 in primary HSC and investigated mRNA expression patterns by qRT-PCR as well as the activation status by different in vitro assays. HSC revealed a marked increase in activation markers like smooth muscle actin alpha (αSMA) and collagen 1α independent from adenoviral transduction. Lhx2 overexpression resulted in attenuated cell viability as shown by a slightly hampered migratory and contractile phenotype of HSC. Expression of stem cell factors or signaling components was also unaffected by Lhx2. Summarizing these results, we found no antifibrotic or stem cell maintaining effect of Lhx2 overexpression in primary HSC.
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