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Increased intrahepatic and circulating levels of endoglin, a TGF-beta1 co-receptor, in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection: relationship to histological and serum markers of hepatic fibrosis

, : Increased intrahepatic and circulating levels of endoglin, a TGF-beta1 co-receptor, in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection: relationship to histological and serum markers of hepatic fibrosis. Journal of Viral Hepatitis 13(9): 625-632

Endoglin, a transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1 co-receptor, has been associated with renal and cutaneous fibrosis, as overexpression of this protein has been observed in biopsies from patients with glomerulosclerosis and scleroderma, respectively. Our aim was to evaluate whether endoglin may be associated with hepatic fibrosis featuring chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Fifty-two anti-HCV+ patients, five anti-HCV- patients and 27 healthy subjects were studied. Western blot and immunohistochemistry were used to quantify the expression levels of endoglin and TGF-beta1 in liver biopsy samples, and serum concentrations of endoglin and hyaluronic acid were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). In patients with advanced fibrosis, intrahepatic expression levels of endoglin and TGF-beta1 were significantly higher than those in patients with early fibrosis (mean: 3- and 5.8-fold, respectively) and normal liver (mean: 3.9- and 12-fold, respectively). Interestingly, activated hepatic stellate cells as well as portal and septal myofibroblasts expressed endoglin. Serum levels of endoglin were also significantly higher in patients with advanced fibrosis than in those with early fibrosis (55.5 +/- 1.6 vs 47.5 +/- 0.9 ng/mL, P < 0.001), showing a positive correlation with serum hyaluronic acid concentrations (r = 0.57, P = 0.01). In conclusion, increased intrahepatic endoglin and TGF-beta1 expression is significantly associated with progressive hepatic fibrosis in chronic HCV infection. Circulating endoglin levels are elevated in HCV patients showing a significant correlation with histological and serum markers of hepatic fibrosis. These data suggest an active role for endoglin in the fibrotic process featuring chronic HCV infection.


PMID: 16907850

DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2893.2006.00733.x

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