Different response to epidermal growth factor of hepatocytes in cultures isolated from male or female rat liver. Inhibitor effect of estrogen on binding and mitogenic effect of epidermal growth factor


Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) synthesis in hepatocytes isolated from the livers of male and female rats has been compared in monolayer culture. Plating efficiency, DNA and protein content, viability, and morphologic appearance were the same in cultures prepared with hepatocytes isolated from male or female rats. Epidermal growth factor (EGF)-induced DNA synthesis was significantly higher in hepatocytes from male rats than in hepatocytes from female rats. This was the case whether hepatocytes were isolated from normal or partially hepatectomized male or female rats. Hepatocytes isolated from regenerating liver synthesize more DNA than those isolated from normal liver in response to EGF. This increased response to EGF in hepatocytes derived from regenerating liver was relatively the same for male- and female-derived hepatocytes, but the magnitude of the response was considerably higher in male-derived hepatocytes. In contrast, in vivo DNA synthesis in the liver remnant after partial hepatectomy was similar in male and female rats if measured 24 h after the operation. A comparison of EGF binding to male- and female-derived hepatocytes maintained in primary culture indicated a lower number of high-affinity receptors for EGF in the female hepatocytes. The addition of estrogen to primary cultures of hepatocytes isolated from male rats inhibited EGF binding as well as EGF-induced DNA synthesis. Our studies show significant differences in DNA synthesis in response to EGF when male and female hepatocytes are compared in primary culture. The regenerative response after partial hepatectomy, on the other hand, was the same in male and female rats. Thus, our studies indicate that the sex of the donor rat is important when hepatocytes in culture are used for a variety of studies, such as hepatocyte metabolism, induction and control of DNA synthesis, and hepatocarcinogenesis. In addition, our results indicate that caution is advised when inferences are made from in vitro findings for in vivo conditions. © 1987

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