Experimental models of liver regeneration in growing animals. Histological and molecular studies, and evaluation of the effects of immunosuppressants / Modelos de regeneração hepática em animais em crescimento: estudos histológicos, moleculares e avaliação de efeitos de imunossupressores




INTRODUCTION: Partial liver transplantation has been performed in children with increasing frequency, and this emphasizes the importance of the studies of hepatic regeneration and the effects of immunosuppressive drugs on this phenomenon. Liver regeneration is controlled by the balance between cell proliferation and apoptosis (defined as a programmed cell death that results from the expression of pro-apoptotic genes - Bax and Bak - and anti-apoptotic genes - Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL). Among proteins related to hepatocyte proliferation, interleukin-6 is an important one. Although the adult rat model of 70% hepatectomy has been widely utilized for studies of liver regeneration, there are no studies using growing animals. METHODS: In the current paper, two experimental models were created utilizing newborn and weaning rats: using a cotton thread, the vascular hilum and the hepatic vein were ligated and the left lateral, left medial and right medial lobes were resected. The remaining liver was immediately harvested and weighted to be compared to control livers. The animals were sacrificed on days 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7 after the operation, the remnant livers were weighted and harvested for histological examinations. Then, 36 animals (18 newborn and 18 weaning animals) were divided into the following groups: control, sham and hepatectomy. One day after, the expressions of IL-6 gene, pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic genes were studied in the remnant livers. Immunohistochemical stainings for cell antigens related to cell proliferation (PCNA) and apoptosis (TUNEL) were also performed utilizing tissue microarray sections. In another group of 36 animals (18 newborn and 18 weaning animals), immunosuppressive drugs were administered just after the hepatectomy (methylprednisolone, cyclosporine A or tacrolimus separately), and the remnant liver submitted to the same molecular and immunohistochemical studies. RESULTS: The resected liver corresponded to 70% of the total liver weight. The mortality rates after hepatectomy were 30% and 0% for newborn and weaning rats, respectively. The histological examinations showed a great number of mitoses of hepatocytes on the third day in newborns and on the second day in weaning rats, and normalization of histological aspects by 7 days after hepatectomy and weight recuperation. In the newborn group liver regeneration was related to an intense steatosis. Hepatectomy promoted an increase in the expression of IL-6 gene of the remnant liver, a decreased expression of pro-apoptotic genes in both models, and an increased expression of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 gene in weaning rats. The study of the effects of immunosuppressants showed different results from those described in adult animals, with no alterations in the number of cells in proliferation (PCNA positive) and apoptosis (TUNEL positive). Drugs had no effect in expression of IL-6 gene. Methylprednisolone and tacrolimus promoted an increased expression of anti-apoptotic gene Bcl-2. In addition, methylprednisolone and cyclosporine promoted an increase in the expression of the pro-apoptotic gene Bak in newborn rats. CONCLUSIONS: The experimental models were feasible and adequate for the current investigations; hepatectomy stimulated hepatocyte proliferation and inhibited hepatic cells apoptosis; the utilized immunosuppressant drugs did not affect hepatocyte proliferation although an increased expression of apoptosis-related genes was verified.


animal models modelos animais imunossupressores tissue microarray regeneração hepática/ efeitos de drogas genes bcl-2 apoptose interleucina-6 prolifarating cell nuclear antigen bcl-2 genes liver regeneration hepatectomy newborn animals regeneração hepática antígeno nuclear de células em proliferação análise em microsséries interleukin-6 marcação in situ das extremidades coradas tunel apoptosis hepatectomia liver regeneration/ effects of drugs immunosuppressants animais recém-nascidos

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