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Ductular reaction, cytokeratin 7 positivity, and gamma-glutamyl transferase in multistage hepatocarcinogenesis in rats

Moreira, Andrea Janz, Rodrigues, Graziella Ramos, Bona, Silvia, Fratta, Leila Xavier Sinigaglia, Weber, Giovana Regina, Picada, Jaqueline Nascimento, dos Santos, Jorge Luiz, Cerski, Carlos Thadeu, Marroni, Claudio Augusto, Marroni, Norma Possa
Protoplasma 2017 v.254 no.2 pp. 911-920
DNA damage, aggression, blood, carcinogenesis, correlation, diethylnitrosamine, gamma-glutamyltransferase, heat-shock protein 70, hepatoma, immunohistochemistry, inducible nitric oxide synthase, liver, males, oxidative stress, prognosis, protein synthesis, rats
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common primary malignancy of the liver and is characterized by multistage formation. The presence of ductular reaction, cytokeratin 7 positivity (PCK7), and increased levels of gamma glutamyltransferase (γGT) has been observed during liver carcinogenesis and contribute to tumor progression. Our goal was to evaluate the ductular reaction in multistage carcinogenesis and to correlate PCK7 and γGT levels with tumor incidence, histological characteristics, liver DNA damage index, and the expression of oxidative stress proteins. HCC was induced in 24 male Wistar rats weighing 145–150 g by chronic and intermittent exposure to 50 or 100 mg/kg diethylnitrosamine (DEN). Six control animals received only vehicle. Blood was collected to determine hepatic enzyme levels. Animals were divided into three groups: control (CO), precancerous lesions (PL), and advanced HCC. Liver samples were obtained for immunohistochemical analyses and the measurement of protein expression. Statistical analyses included Tukey’s test and Pearson’s correlation analyses. We observed an extensive ductular reaction in advanced HCC and a strong correlation between PCK7 and levels of γGT and the poor prognosis and aggressiveness of HCC. The extent of PCK7 and high γGT levels were associated with overexpression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and heat shock factor protein 1 (HSF-1). However, PCK7 and γGT levels were negatively correlated with protein expression of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2) and inducible heat shock protein 70 (iHSP70). These findings suggest that ductular reaction is involved in the progression of multistage hepatocarcinogenesis.