BM-MSCs overexpressing the Numb enhance the therapeutic effect on cholestatic liver fibrosis by inhibiting the ductular reaction
Stem Cell Research & Therapy. 14(1)
Background: Cholestatic liver fibrosis (CLF) is caused by inflammatory destruction of the intrahepatic bile duct and abnormal proliferation of the small bile duct after cholestasis. Activation of the Notch signaling pathway is required for hepatic stem cells to differentiate into cholangiocytes during the pathogenesis of CLF. Our previous research found that the expression of the Numb protein, a negative regulator of Notch signaling, was significantly reduced in the livers of patients with primary biliary cholangitis and CLF rats. However, the relationship between the Numb gene and CLF is largely unclear. In this study, we investigated the role of the Numb gene in the treatment of bile duct ligation (BDL)-induced CLF.Methods: In vivo, bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) with Numb gene overexpression or knockdown obtained using lentivirus transfection were transplanted into the livers of rats with BDL-induced CLF. The effects of the Numb gene on stem cell differentiation and CLF were evaluated by performing histology, tests of liver function, and measurements of liver hydroxyproline, cytokine gene and protein levels. In vitro, the Numb gene was overexpressed or knocked down in the WB-F344 cell line by lentivirus transfection, Then, cells were subjected immunofluorescence staining and the detection of mRNA levels of related factors, which provided further evidence supporting the results from in vivo experiments.Results: BM-MSCs overexpressing the Numb gene differentiated into hepatocytes, thereby inhibiting CLF progression. Conversely, BM-MSCs with Numb knockdown differentiated into biliary epithelial cells (BECs), thereby promoting the ductular reaction (DR) and the progression of CLF. In addition, we confirmed that knockdown of Numb in sodium butyrate-treated WB-F344 cells aggravated WB-F344 cell differentiation into BECs, while overexpression of Numb inhibited this process.Conclusions: The transplantation of BM-MSCs overexpressing Numb may be a useful new treatment strategy for CLF.