Hepatocyte growth factor prevents endotoxin-induced lethal hepatic failure in mice

Hepatology. 1999 Jul;30(1):151-9. doi: 10.1002/hep.510300102.


Sepsis and endotoxemia are involved in the development of fulminant hepatic failure, the prognosis of which is extremely poor and the mortality is high, with no available effective therapy. Here, we report that hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) exerts potent antiapoptotic effects in vivo and effectively prevents endotoxin-induced fulminant hepatic failure in mice. The animals were intraperitoneally injected three times with 120 micrograms human recombinant HGF or saline 6 hours and 30 minutes before and 3 hours after an intraperitoneal injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and D-galactosamine (GalN). Administration of LPS + GalN, without HGF, rapidly led to massive hepatocyte apoptosis and severe liver injury, and all mice died of hepatic failure within 8 hours. In contrast, administration of human recombinant HGF strongly suppressed extensive progress of hepatocyte apoptosis and the liver injury induced by LPS + GalN, and 75% of the HGF-treated mice survived. Moreover, HGF strongly induced Bcl-xL expression and blocked apoptotic signal transduction upstream of CPP32 (caspase-3) in the liver, thereby leading to inhibition of massive hepatocyte apoptosis. We suggest that HGF may well have the potential to prevent fulminant hepatic failure, at least through its potent antiapoptotic action.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Death
  • Endotoxins / toxicity
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Galactosamine / toxicity*
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity*
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Liver Failure / chemically induced*
  • Liver Failure / pathology
  • Liver Failure / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use


  • Endotoxins
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor
  • Galactosamine
  • CASP3 protein, human
  • Casp3 protein, mouse
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspases