Sci Rep 7:230(2017)

Enhanced Wnt Signalling in Hepatocytes is Associated with Schistosoma japonicum Infection and Contributes to Liver Fibrosis

Qi Wang, Xin Chou, Fei Guan, Zhengming Fang, Shengjun Lu, Jiahui Lei, Yonglong Li & Wenqi Liu


Liver fibrosis is the most serious pathology caused by Schistosoma japonicum infection, which arises when schistosome eggs are deposited in the liver. Eosinophils, macrophages and hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) have been identified as major cellular contributors to the development of granulomas and fibrosis, but little is known about the effects of hepatocytes on granuloma formation. Here, we found that the levels of Wnt signalling-related molecules, transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) in hepatocytes were markedly elevated after S. japonicum infection. Liver fibrosis was exacerbated when exogenous Wnt3a was introduced, but was alleviated when Wnt signalling was suppressed by DKK1, accompanied by the reduced expression of TGF-β and CTGF in hepatocytes. These results indicate that the hepatocytic expression of TGF-β and CTGF is mediated by Wnt signalling. Additionally, the hepatocytes isolated from infected mice promoted the activation of primary HSCs in vitro, however, this effect was not observed when hepatocytes from DKK1 treated S. japonicum-infected mice was employed in the co-culture system. Our findings identify a novel pro-fibrogenic role of hepatocytes in schistosomiasis-induced liver fibrosis that is dependent on Wnt signalling, which may serve as a potential target for ameliorating hepatic fibrosis caused by helminths.

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