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Research Article

Retinoic acid modulates rat Ito cell proliferation, collagen, and transforming growth factor beta production.

B H Davis, R T Kramer and N O Davidson

Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Illinois 60637.

Published December 1990

Recent studies suggest that vitamin A plays an inhibitory role with respect to "activation" of the hepatic Ito cell, a likely effector of hepatic fibrogenesis. Ito cell "activation" during fibrogenesis is characterized by a decrease in intracellular vitamin A and an increase in cellular proliferation and collagen production. To explore the hypothesis that retinoids have the capacity to diminish Ito cell activation, cultured Ito cells were exposed to retinoic acid and its effects assessed on three key features: cell proliferation, collagen protein production and mRNA abundance, and transforming growth factor beta protein production. Retinoic acid was 100-1,000X more potent than retinol with respect to inhibition of Ito cell proliferation. Interstitial collagen and transforming growth factor beta production were also reduced by 10(-6) M retinoic acid. The relative abundance of type I collagen mRNA however, was not significantly altered. By contrast, retinoic acid administration to rats caused a marked reduction in the abundance of type I collagen mRNA in both total hepatic and purified Ito cell RNA. The relative abundance of rat hepatic fibronectin or apolipoprotein E mRNA was not significantly altered. These studies demonstrate that retinoic acid can differentially modulate several key features of hepatic fibrogenesis in vitro and in vivo.

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