EGF and HB-EGF enhance the proliferation of programmable cells of monocytic origin (PCMO) through activation of MEK/ERK signaling and improve differentiation of PCMO-derived hepatocyte-like cells
1 Clinic for Applied Cellular Medicine, UKSH, Campus Kiel, Arnold-Heller Strasse 3, Hs. 18, 24105, Kiel, Germany
2 BG Unfallklinik Tübingen, Eberhard-Karls Universität Tübingen, Schnarrenbergstr. 95, 72076, Tübingen, Germany
3 First Department of Medicine, UKSH, Campus Lübeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, 23538, Lübeck, Germany
Cell Communication and Signaling 2012, 10:23 doi:10.1186/1478-811X-10-23Published: 8 August 2012
Hepatocyte-like cells (NeoHepatocytes) generated from a peripheral blood monocyte-derived stem cell-like cell (the PCMO) are a promising alternative for primary hepatocytes in cell transplantation studies to cure liver diseases. However, to be therapeutically effective NeoHepatocytes are needed in large quantities. It was the aim of the present study to investigate i) whether the proportion of actively proliferating NeoHepatocytes can be enhanced by supplementing the PCMO differentiation medium (containing M-CSF, IL-3, and human serum) with either EGF or HB-EGF and ii) which signaling pathway underlies the promitotic effect.
EGF and HB-EGF enhanced cell proliferation of PCMOs as demonstrated by increased expression of cycle control genes (ABL, ANAPC2, CDC2, CDK4, CDK6), phosphorylation of the retinoblastoma protein, and increased PCMO cell numbers after stimulation with EGF or HB-EGF. EGF also raised the number of monocytes expressing the proliferation marker Ki67. PCMOs expressed the EGF receptors EGFR (ERBB1) and ERBB3, and expression of both increased during PCMO generation. Phosphoimmunoblotting of PCMOs indicated that both EGF and HB-EGF activated MEK-1/2 and ERK1/2 in a concentration-dependent fashion with the effect of EGF being more prominent. EGF treatment further decreased expression of p47phox and increased that of Nanog indicating enhanced dedifferentiation and pluripotency, respectively. Treatment with both EGF and HB-EGF resulted in NeoHepatocytes with improved functional parameters.
The results suggested that the addition of EGF or HB-EGF to PCMO differentiation medium superactivates MEK/ERK signaling which then increases both PCMO proliferation, number, and functional differentiation of PCMO-derived NeoHepatocytes.