Aim: To determine the gene expression profile data for the whole liver during development of dimethylni-trosamine (DMN)-induced hepatic fibrosis.
Methods: Marker genes were identified for different types of hepatic cells, including hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), Kupffer cells (including other inflammatory cells), and hepatocytes, using independent temporal DNA microarray data obtained from isolated hepatic cells.
Results: The cell-type analysis of gene expression gave several key results and led to formation of three hypotheses: (1) changes in the expression of HSC-specific marker genes during fibrosis were similar to gene expression data in in vitro cultured HSCs, suggesting a major role of the self-activating characteristics of HSCs in formation of fibrosis; (2) expression of mast cell-specific marker genes reached a peak during liver fibrosis, suggesting a possible role of mast cells in formation of fibrosis; and (3) abnormal expression of hepatocyte-specific marker genes was found across several metabolic pathways during fibrosis, including sulfur-containing amino acid metabolism, fatty acid metabolism, and drug metabolism, suggesting a mechanistic relationship between these abnormalities and symptoms of liver fibrosis.
Conclusion: Analysis of marker genes for specific hepatic cell types can identify the key aspects of fibrogenesis. Sequential activation of inflammatory cells and the self-supporting properties of HSCs play an important role in development of fibrosis.