Disruption of the hepatic endothelial barrier or Kupffer cell function facilitates transplanted cell engraftment in the liver. To determine whether these mechanisms could be activated simultaneously, we studied the effects of monocrotaline, a pyrollizidine alkaloid, with reported toxicity in liver sinusoidal endothelial cells and Kupffer cells. The effects of monocrotaline in Fischer 344 rats were examined by tissue morphology, serum hyaluronic acid levels, and liver tests (endothelial and hepatocyte injury) or incorporation of carbon and 99mTo-sulfur colloid (Kupffer cell damage). To study changes in cell engraftment and liver repopulation, Fischer 344 rat hepatocytes were transplanted into syngeneic dipeptidyl peptidase IV-deficient rats followed by histological assays. We observed extensive endothelial injury without Kupffer cell or hepatocyte damage in monocrotaline-treated rats. Monocrotaline enhanced transplanted cell engraftment without changes in transplanted cell numbers or induction of proliferation in native hepatocytes over 3 months. In monocrotaline-treated rats, transplanted cells integrated into the liver parenchyma and survived in vascular spaces. To determine whether native hepatocytes suffered inapparent damage after monocrotaline, we introduced further liver injury with carbon tetrachloride subsequent to cell transplantation. Monocrotaline sensitized the liver to carbon tetrachloride-induced necrosis, which advanced transplanted cell proliferation, leading to significant liver repopulation. During this process, we observed proliferation of bile duct cells and small epithelial cells, although transplanted hepatocytes did not appear to reconstitute bile ducts. The studies showed that perturbation of multiple liver cell compartments by monocrotaline promoted transplanted cell engraftment and proliferation. In conclusion, development of drugs with monocrotaline-like effects will help advance liver cell therapy.
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