Barbara Akhurst

University of Western Australia, Perth City, Western Australia, Australia

Are you Barbara Akhurst?

Claim your profile

Publications (6)61.8 Total impact

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Lymphotoxin-beta (LTbeta) is a proinflammatory cytokine and a member of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) superfamily known for its role in mediating lymph node development and homeostasis. Our recent studies suggest a role for LTbeta in mediating the pathogenesis of human chronic liver disease. We hypothesize that LTbeta co-ordinates the wound healing response in liver injury via direct effects on hepatic stellate cells. This study used the choline-deficient, ethionine-supplemented (CDE) dietary model of chronic liver injury, which induces inflammation, liver progenitor cell proliferation, and portal fibrosis, to assess (1) the cellular expression of LTbeta, and (2) the role of LTbeta receptor (LTbetaR) in mediating wound healing, in LTbetaR(-/-) versus wild-type mice. In addition, primary isolates of hepatic stellate cells were treated with LTbetaR-ligands LTbeta and LTbeta-related inducible ligand competing for glycoprotein D binding to herpesvirus entry mediator on T cells (LIGHT), and mediators of hepatic stellate cell function and fibrogenesis were assessed. LTbeta was localized to progenitor cells immediately adjacent to activated hepatic stellate cells in the periportal region of the liver in wild-type mice fed the CDE diet. LTbetaR(-/-) mice fed the CDE diet showed significantly reduced fibrosis and a dysregulated immune response. LTbetaR was demonstrated on isolated hepatic stellate cells, which when stimulated by LTbeta and LIGHT, activated the nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappaB) signaling pathway. Neither LTbeta nor LIGHT had any effect on alpha-smooth muscle actin, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1, transforming growth factor beta, or procollagen alpha(1)(I) expression; however, leukocyte recruitment-associated factors intercellular adhesion molecule 1 and regulated upon activation T cells expressed and secreted (RANTES) were markedly up-regulated. RANTES caused the chemotaxis of a liver progenitor cell line expressing CCR5. Conclusion: This study suggests that LTbetaR on hepatic stellate cells may be involved in paracrine signaling with nearby LTbeta-expressing liver progenitor cells mediating recruitment of progenitor cells, hepatic stellate cells, and leukocytes required for wound healing and regeneration during chronic liver injury.
    Hepatology 09/2008; 49(1):227-39. · 12.00 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Gp130-mediated IL-6 signaling may play a role in oval cell proliferation in vivo. Levels of IL-6 are elevated in livers of mice treated with a choline-deficient ethionine-supplemented (CDE) diet that induces oval cells, and there is a reduction of oval cells in IL-6 knockout mice. The CDE diet recapitulates characteristics of chronic liver injury in humans. In this study, we determined the impact of IL-6 signaling on oval cell-mediated liver regeneration in vivo. Signaling pathways downstream of gp130 activation were also dissected. Numbers of A6(+ve) liver progenitor oval cells (LPCs) in CDE-treated murine liver were detected by immunohistochemistry and quantified. Levels of oval cell migration and proliferation were compared in CDE-treated mouse strains that depict models of gp130-mediated hyperactive ERK-1/2 signaling (gp130(deltaSTAT)), hyperactive STAT-3 signaling (gp130(Y757F) and Socs-3(-/deltaAlb)) or active ERK-1/2 as well as active STAT-3 signaling (wild-type). The A6(+ve) LPC numbers were increased with IL-6 treatment in vivo. The gp130(Y757F) mice displayed increased A6(+ve) LPCs numbers compared with wild-type and gp130(deltaSTAT) mice. Numbers of A6(+ve) LPCs were also increased in the livers of CDE treated Socs-3(-/deltaAlb) mice compared with their control counterparts. Lastly, inhibition of ERK-1/2 activation in cultured oval cells increased hyper IL-6-induced cell growth. For the first time, we have dissected the gp130-mediated signaling pathways, which influence liver progenitor oval cell proliferation. Conclusion: Hyperactive STAT-3 signaling results in enhanced oval cell numbers, whereas ERK-1/2 activation suppresses oval cell proliferation.
    Hepatology 03/2007; 45(2):486-94. · 12.00 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Gp130-mediated IL-6 signaling may play a role in oval cell proliferation in vivo. Levels of IL-6 are elevated in livers of mice treated with a choline-deficient ethionine-supplemented (CDE) diet that induces oval cells, and there is a reduction of oval cells in IL-6 knockout mice. The CDE diet recapitulates characteristics of chronic liver injury in humans. In this study, we determined the impact of IL-6 signaling on oval cell-mediated liver regeneration in vivo. Signaling pathways downstream of gp130 activation were also dissected. Numbers of A6(+ve) liver progenitor oval cells (LPCs) in CDE-treated murine liver were detected by immunohistochemistry and quantified. Levels of oval cell migration and proliferation were compared in CDE-treated mouse strains that depict models of gp130-mediated hyperactive ERK-1/2 signaling (gp130(deltaSTAT)), hyperactive STAT-3 signaling (gp130(Y757F) and Socs-3(-/deltaAlb)) or active ERK-1/2 as well as active STAT-3 signaling (wild-type). The A6(+ve) LPC numbers were increased with IL-6 treatment in vivo. The gp130(Y757F) mice displayed increased A6(+ve) LPCs numbers compared with wild-type and gp130(deltaSTAT) mice. Numbers of A6(+ve) LPCs were also increased in the livers of CDE treated Socs-3(-/deltaAlb) mice compared with their control counterparts. Lastly, inhibition of ERK-1/2 activation in cultured oval cells increased hyper IL-6-induced cell growth. For the first time, we have dissected the gp130-mediated signaling pathways, which influence liver progenitor oval cell proliferation. Conclusion: Hyperactive STAT-3 signaling results in enhanced oval cell numbers, whereas ERK-1/2 activation suppresses oval cell proliferation.
    Hepatology 03/2007; 45(2):486-94. · 12.00 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Liver regeneration following chronic injury is associated with inflammation, the proliferation of liver progenitor (oval) cells and fibrosis. Previous studies identified interferon-gamma as a key mediator of oval cell proliferation. Interferon-gamma is known to regulate Th1 cell activities during immune challenge. Therefore, we hypothesised that progenitor cell-mediated regeneration is associated with a Th1 immune response. C57Bl/6 (normal Th1 response) and BALB/c mice (deficient in Th1 signalling) were placed on a carcinogenic diet to induce liver injury, progenitor cell proliferation and fibrosis. Serum transaminases and mortality were elevated in BALB/c mice fed the diet. Proliferation of liver progenitor cells was significantly attenuated in BALB/c animals. The pattern of cytokine expression and inflammation differed between strains. Liver fibrosis and hepatic stellate cell activation were significantly inhibited in BALB/c mice compared to C57Bl/6. In addition, interferon-gamma knockout mice also showed reduced fibrosis compared to wild type. These findings are in contrast to published results, in which interferon-gamma is shown to be anti-fibrogenic. Our data demonstrate that the hepatic progenitor cell response to a CDE diet is inhibited in mice lacking Th1 immune signalling and further show that this inhibition is associated with reduced liver fibrosis.
    Journal of Hepatology 02/2007; 46(1):134-41. · 9.86 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Oval cells are facultative liver progenitor cells, which are invoked during chronic liver injury in order to replenish damaged hepatocytes and bile duct cells. Previous studies have observed inflammation and cytokine production in the liver during chronic injury. Further, it has been proposed that inflammatory growth factors may mediate the proliferation of oval cells during disease progression. We have undertaken a detailed examination of inflammation and cytokine production during a time course of liver injury and repair, invoked by feeding mice a choline-deficient, ethionine-supplemented (CDE) diet. We show that immediately following initial liver injury, B220-expressing leucocytes transiently infiltrate the liver. This inflammatory response occurred immediately before oval cell numbers began to expand in the liver, suggesting that the two events may be linked. Two waves of liver cytokine production were observed during the CDE time course. The first occurred shortly following commencement of the diet, suggesting that it may represent a hepatic acute phase response. However, examination of acute phase marker expression in CDE-fed mice did not support this hypothesis. The second wave of cytokine expression correlated with the expansion of oval cell numbers in the liver, suggesting that these factors may mediate oval cell proliferation. No inflammatory signalling was detected following withdrawal of the injury stimulus. In summary, our results document a close correlation between inflammation, cytokine production and the expansion of oval cells in the liver during experimental chronic injury.
    Immunology and Cell Biology 09/2005; 83(4):364-74. · 3.93 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The liver regenerates after acute injury via hepatocyte cell division; during chronic injury, when hepatocyte replication is impaired or blocked, liver progenitor oval cells mediate liver regeneration. If both regeneration options are blocked in animal models, then liver failure and death ensues. The mechanisms underlying oval cell induction, proliferation, and subsequent liver regeneration remain poorly characterized. In particular, cell-signaling pathways that distinguish the alternative pathways are unknown. This study shows that in a mouse model, hepatic expression of lymphotoxin-beta (LTbeta) and interferon gamma (IFNgamma) transcripts is increased in response to the choline-deficient, ethionine-supplemented (CDE) diet, which induces oval cell-mediated liver regeneration. Oval cells express LTbeta and IFNgamma transcripts, contributing to the increased expression in the liver of mice fed the CDE diet. An attenuated oval cell response to such a diet was observed in LTbeta receptor-, LTbeta-, and IFNgamma-gene targeted mice. Loss of LTbeta and LTbeta receptor signaling reduced the number of oval cells expressing A6 and muscle pyruvate kinase. The lack of IFNgamma signaling reduced muscle pyruvate kinase(+), but not A6(+), oval cells. In contrast, partial hepatectomy suppressed LTbeta and IFNgamma transcripts. We also show that IFNgamma induces STAT-3 phosphorylation in an oval cell line. In conclusion, LTbeta, LTbeta receptor, and IFNgamma are involved in oval cell-mediated, but not hepatocyte-mediated, liver regeneration, and the absence of these pathways impairs the oval cell-dependent regenerative response.
    Hepatology 03/2005; 41(2):327-35. · 12.00 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Several reliable and reproducible methods are available to induce oval cells in rat liver. Effective methods often involve inhibiting proliferation in hepatocytes using an alkylating agent, then subjecting the rat to partial hepatectomy (PH). The surgery is difficult to perform reproducibly in mice. Approaches that do not include partial hepatectomy, such as administration of D-galactosamine, are ineffective in mice. We found that a choline-deficient, ethionine-supplemented (CDE) diet, which is very effective in rats, leads to high morbidity and mortality when administered to mice. This article outlines an alternative protocol by which a CDE diet can be administered to mice. This diet is shown to be highly effective for oval cell induction, without causing high mortality. It takes less time and is at least as effective as other commonly used protocols for inducing oval cells in mice.
    Hepatology 10/2001; 34(3):519-22. · 12.00 Impact Factor