Background & Aims
To improve outcomes of two-staged hepatectomies for large/multiple liver tumors, portal vein ligation (PVL) has been combined with parenchymal transection (associating liver partition and portal vein ligation for staged hepatectomy [coined ALPPS]) to greatly accelerate liver regeneration. In a novel ALPPS mouse model, we have reported paracrine Indian hedgehog (IHH) signaling from stellate cells as an early contributor to augmented regeneration. Here, we sought to identify upstream regulators of IHH.
ALPPS in mice was compared against PVL and additional control surgeries. Potential IHH regulators were identified through in silico mining of transcriptomic data. c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK1 [Mapk8]) activity was reduced through SP600125 to evaluate its effects on IHH signaling. Recombinant IHH was injected after JNK1 diminution to substantiate their relationship during accelerated liver regeneration.
Transcriptomic analysis linked Ihh to Mapk8. JNK1 upregulation after ALPPS was validated and preceded the IHH peak. On immunofluorescence, JNK1 and IHH co-localized in alpha-smooth muscle actin-positive non-parenchymal cells. Inhibition of JNK1 prior to ALPPS surgery reduced liver weight gain to PVL levels and was accompanied by downregulation of hepatocellular proliferation and the IHH-GLI1-CCND1 axis. In JNK1-inhibited mice, recombinant IHH restored ALPPS-like acceleration of regeneration and re-elevated JNK1 activity, suggesting the presence of a positive IHH-JNK1 feedback loop.
JNK1-mediated induction of IHH paracrine signaling from hepatic stellate cells is essential for accelerated regeneration of parenchymal mass. The JNK1-IHH axis is a mechanism unique to ALPPS surgery and may point to therapeutic alternatives for patients with insufficient regenerative capacity.
Associating liver partition and portal vein ligation for staged hepatectomy (so called ALPPS), is a new two-staged approach to hepatectomy, which induces an unprecedented acceleration of liver regeneration, enabling treatment of patients with liver tumors that would otherwise be considered unresectable. Herein, we demonstrate that JNK1-IHH signaling from stellate cells is a key mechanism underlying the regenerative acceleration that is induced by ALPPS.