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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Different effects of rat interferon alpha, beta and gamma on rat hepatic stellate cell proliferation and activation

Hong Shen1, Manna Zhang1, Gerald Y Minuk13 and Yuewen Gong12*

Author Affiliations

1 Departments of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

2 Biochemistry & Medical Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

3 Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

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BMC Cell Biology 2002, 3:9  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-3-9

Published: 8 April 2002



Liver fibrosis is the common sequel of chronic liver diseases. Recent studies have identified hepatic stellate cells as the primary cell type mediating hepatic fibrogenesis. It has been demonstrated that hepatic stellate cells undergo a process of activation during the development of liver fibrosis. During the activation process, hepatic stellate cells acquire myofibroblast-like phenotype featuring the expression of smooth muscle alpha actin. Interferons have been employed for the treatment of viral hepatitis. However, it is unclear what is the effect of interferons on the prevention and treatment of liver fibrosis. Moreover, it is not clear whether there are any differences among interferon alpha, interferon beta, and interferon gamma in the treatment of liver fibrosis. Therefore, our objective in current study is to investigate the effects of rat interferon-α, interferon-β, and interferon-γ on the proliferation and activation of rat hepatic stellate cells.


Rat interferon-β and interferon-γ significantly inhibited rat hepatic stellate cell proliferation while rat interferon-α did not affect the cell proliferation under the same culture condition. Inhibition of cell proliferation was confirmed by both WST-1 cell proliferation assay and 5-bromo-2'-deoxy-uridine incorporation assay. Similar results were observed regarding interferons regulation of hepatic stellate cell activation. Both rat interferon-β and interferon-γ reduced smooth muscle α-actin abundance after 6 days treatment, but rat interferon-α did not alter smooth muscle α-actin level.


Our results indicate that rat interferon-α and interferon-β have different biological effects on rat hepatic stellate cells and suggest that there are different signaling events between interferon-α and interferon-β in hepatic stellate cells.