Effect of selective COX-2 inhibitors on hepatic progenitor cells and the pathologies of experimental hepatocarcinogenesis

Richard Davies

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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[Truncated abstract] Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the major malignancy complicating chronic liver disease. New therapies for the prevention of HCC are required due to the limited success and high tumour recurrence rates of existing treatments. Emerging evidence suggests that HCC arise from the transformation of adult liver progenitor cells (LPCs), which have the capacity to differentiate into hepatocytes and biliary cells during liver regeneration. LPC activation precedes neoplasia in experimental hepatocarcinogenesis. LPCs share antigenic epitopes with HCCs, including α-fetoprotein (AFP) and M2- pyruvate kinase (M2PK). In animal models of hepatocarcinogenesis, attenuation of the LPC response reduces the incidence of HCC following prolonged liver injury via a tumour necrosis factor (TNF) dependent mechanism. As TNF is a pro-inflammatory cytokine, these data suggest that anti-inflammatory agents may be effective in inhibiting LPC activation and hepatocarcinogenesis. Cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2) is an inducible enzyme that mediates the production of many prostaglandins during inflammation and carcinogenesis. Recent investigations show that the administration of selective COX-2 inhibitors (SC2Is) may reduce the incidence of a variety of tumours including breast, colon and skin. The broad aim of this thesis was to conduct a series of detailed studies on the effects of a SC2I on LPC activation and the hepatic pathologies associated with hepatocarcinogenesis in order to test the hypothesis that S2CIs may be a beneficial therapy that can reduce liver injury and pre-neoplastic changes in the choline-deficient, ethionine supplemented (CDE) murine model of hepatocarcinogenesis. Administration of a SC2I (SC-236) significantly inhibited a variety of hepatic cell populations that expand during the first month of the CDE mouse model of hepatocarcinogenesis (a choline deficient, ethionine supplemented diet). Numbers of M2PK-positive LPCs (which are more hepatocytic in morphology and are also COX-2 positive) and inflammatory cells were all significantly reduced by SC-236. In contrast, numbers of A6-positive LPCs (which are more biliary cell-like in morphology and do not express COX-2) were unchanged. ... In summary, these data suggest that COX-2 inhibitors such as SC-236 inhibit LPC activation and a variety of pre-neoplastic liver pathologies as a result of COX-2 dependent and independent mechanisms that may be mediated through inhibition of Akt phosphorylation and induction of apoptosis. Moreover, SC2Is may be useful as preventative treatment strategies for HCC in patients with chronic liver disease.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2007


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