YKL-40 expression in CD14⁺ liver cells in acute and chronic injury

World J Gastroenterol. 2011 Sep 7;17(33):3830-5. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v17.i33.3830.


Aim: To demonstrate that CD14⁺ cells are an important source of the growth factor YKL-40 in acute and chronic liver damage.

Methods: Rats were inoculated with one dose of CCl(4) to induce acute damage. Liver biopsies were obtained at 0, 6, 12, 24, 48 and 72 h. For chronic damage, CCl(4) was administered three days per week for 6 or 8 wk. Tissue samples were collected, and cellular populations were isolated by liver digestion and purified by cell sorting. YKL-40 mRNA and protein expression were evaluated by real-time polymerase chain reaction and western blot.

Results: Acute liver damage induced a rapid increase of YKL-40 mRNA beginning at 12 h. Expression peaked at 24 h, with a 26-fold increase over basal levels. By 72 h however, YKL-40 expression levels had nearly returned to control levels. On the other hand, chronic damage induced a sustained increase in YKL-40 expression, with 7- and 9-fold higher levels at 6 and 8 wk, respectively. The pattern of YKL-40 expression in different subpopulations showed that CD14⁺ cells, which include Kupffer cells, are a source of YKL-40 after acute damage at 72 h [0.09 relative expression units (REU)] as well as after chronic injury at 6 wk (0.11 REU). Hepatocytes, in turn, accounted for 0.06 and 0.01 REU after 72 h (acute) or 6 wk (chronic), respectively. The rest of the CD14⁻ cells (including T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, natural killer and natural killer T cells) yielded 0.07 and 0.15 REU at 72 h and 6 wk, respectively. YKL-40 protein expression in liver was detected at 72 h as well as 6 and 8 wk, with the highest expression relative to controls (11-fold; P ≤ 0.05) seen at 6 wk. Macrophages were stimulated by lipopolysaccharide. We demonstrate that under these conditions, these cells showed maximum expression of YKL-40 at 12 h, with P < 0.05 compared with controls.

Conclusion: Hepatic CD14⁺ cells are an YKL-40 mRNA and protein source in acute and chronic liver injury, with expression patterns similar to growth factors implicated in inflammation-fibrogenesis.

Keywords: CD14+ cells; Kupffer cells; Liver cirrhosis; YKL-40.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chitinase-3-Like Protein 1
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / genetics
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism*
  • Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Growth Substances / metabolism
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • Hepatocytes / pathology
  • Humans
  • Lectins / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / metabolism*
  • Liver / cytology
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / physiology
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Adipokines
  • CHI3L1 protein, human
  • CHI3L1 protein, rat
  • Chitinase-3-Like Protein 1
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Growth Substances
  • Lectins
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors