The antifibrogenic effect of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) on renal tubular (HK-2) cells is dependent on cell growth

Growth Factors. 2009 Jun;27(3):173-80. doi: 10.1080/08977190902834077.


Although several reports suggest an antifibrogenic effect of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), an increased deposition of matrix induced by HGF has also been reported. These conflicting effects could result from a diverse proliferative state of the target cells. Aim of the present study was to evaluate HGF effects on growth arrested (quiescent) and actively proliferating renal tubular epithelial (HK-2) cells. HK-2 cells were cultured in RPMI medium either on agarose gel or on plastic surface in order to inhibit or to allow cell proliferation. Cells were incubated with RPMI containing HGF (50 ng/ml) for 24 h at 37 degrees C. Untreated HK-2 were used as control. After 24 h of incubation, cells were counted by Coulter counter. (alpha2)IV collagen, transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteases (TIMP1 and 2) mRNA levels were determined by RT-PCR. The production of type IV collagen, c-met, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), and SnoN, a transcriptional Smad corepressor and thus a TGF-beta inhibitor, was evaluated by ELISA or western blotting. MMP-9 and 2 gelatinolytic activity was studied by zymography. Treatment with HGF did not increase HK-2 cell number and PCNA synthesis when the cells were grown on agarose as it did for cells grown on plastic surface. HGF increased (alpha2)IV collagen in proliferating cells whereas it reduced (alpha2)IV collagen and c-met synthesis in growth arrested cells. HGF treatment increased TGF-beta and TIMP-2 in proliferating cells while reduced TIMP-1 mRNA levels of quiescent cells. Furthermore, production of the co repressor SnoN was significantly decreased by HGF in proliferating cells. Quiescent and proliferating HK-2 showed a different pattern of metalloproteases activity with a prevalence of MMP2 in quiescent and MMP9 in proliferating cells. In summary, HGF showed opposite effects on growth arrested and proliferating HK-2 cells favouring matrix deposition in the latter with increasing expression of collagen, TIMP-1 and TGF-beta. Our results demonstrate that the proliferative state of target cells may influence the effects of HGF on extracellular matrix turnover in HK-2 cells.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Differentiation / metabolism*
  • Cell Cycle / physiology*
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Collagen Type IV / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Fibrosis / metabolism
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / pharmacology
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / cytology*
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / drug effects
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / metabolism
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / metabolism


  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • Collagen Type IV
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases