α-1-Antitrypsin (α1-AT) deficiency is the most common cause of metabolic pediatric liver disease. Hepatocellular injury is caused by toxicity of the mutant α-1-antitrypsin Z (α1-ATZ) molecule retained within hepatocytes. In these studies, we used the PiZ transgenic mouse model of α1-AT deficiency to examine hepatocellular proliferation in response to chronic liver injury resulting from this metabolic disease. The results showed increased hepatocellular proliferation and caspase 9 activation in male PiZ mice compared with female PiZ and wild-type mice. Hepatic α1-AT MRNA and protein expression also were increased in male PiZ mice, suggesting that greater hepatocellular proliferation and caspase activation in males results from increased hepatotoxicity associated with greater intracellular α1-ATZ accumulation. Testosterone treatment of female PiZ mice increased α1-ATZ expression and hepatocellular proliferation to a level comparable with that in males. In PiZ mice, hepatocytes devoid of intracellular α1-AT globules had a proliferative advantage compared with globule-containing hepatocytes. However, this advantage is relative because both globule-containing and globule-devoid hepatocytes exhibited comparable proliferafion after partial hepatectomy. In conclusion, these data indicate that intracellular retention of mutant α1-ATZ is associated with a regenerative stimulus leading to increased hepatocellular proliferation, that gender-specific signals influence the degree of α1-AT expression and associated hepatic injury, and that hepatocytes devoid of α1-ATZ have a proliferative advantage over cells that accumulate the mutant protein. This selective proliferation suggests that hepatocellular transplantation may be applicable for treatment of this and other slowly progressive metabolic liver diseases.
|Number of pages||8|
|State||Published - Apr 2004|