Human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an inflammation-induced cancer, which is the third-leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide. We investigated the role of the chemokine receptors, CCR5 and CCR1, in regulating inflammation and tumorigenesis in an inflammation-induced HCC model in mice. Multidrug resistance 2 gene (Mdr2)-knockout (Mdr2-KO) mice spontaneously develop chronic cholestatic hepatitis and fibrosis that is eventually followed by HCC. We generated two new strains from the Mdr2-KO mouse, the Mdr2:CCR5 and the Mdr2:CCR1 double knockouts (DKOs), and set out to compare inflammation and tumorigenesis among these strains. We found that in Mdr2-KO mice lacking the chemokine receptor, CCR5 (Mdr2:CCR5 DKO mice), but not CCR1 (Mdr2:CCR1 DKO), macrophage recruitment and trafficking to the liver was significantly reduced. Furthermore, in the absence of CCR5, reduced inflammation was also associated with reduced periductal accumulation of CD24(+) oval cells and abrogation of fibrosis. DKO mice for Mdr2 and CCR5 exhibited a significant decrease in tumor incidence and size.
Conclusions: Our results indicate that CCR5 has a critical role in both the development and progression of liver cancer. Therefore, we propose that a CCR5 antagonist can serve for HCC cancer prevention and treatment.
© 2013 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.