Transforming growth factor beta-1 stimulates invasivity of hepatic stellate cells by engagement of the cell-associated fibrinolytic system

G. Fibbi, M. Pucci, S. D'Alessio, C. Grappone, G. Pellegrini, R. Salzano, A. Casini, S. Milani, M. Del Rosso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSC) during liver fibrogenesis has been shown to be mediated by paracrine and autocrine loops involving transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) as the main fibrogenic mediator secreted by activated macrophages, endothelial cells and liberated by disintegrated platelets. The cell-associated plasminogen activation system regulates extracellular matrix (ECM) catabolism and cell movement. We have studied whether TGF-β1 could modulate the plasminogen activation system in human HSC and the role of such protease system in the activity of TGF-β1 on HSC. Urokinase plasminogen activator receptors (u-PAR), u-PA and plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1) were determined by immunoassay and RNase protection assay. Cell migration, evaluated either as chemotaxis or as chemoinvasion, was studied in Boyden chambers after addition of TGF-β1, and inhibition with anti-u-PA and anti-u-PAR antagonists [antibodies against u-PA and u-PAR and antisense oligonucleotides (aODN) against u-PAR mRNA]. We have shown that TGF-β1 is not mitogenic for HSC, while it is a powerful motogen either in chemotaxis or chemoinvasion assays. TGF-β1 up-regulates the synthesis and expression of PAI-1, as well as u-PAR expression and exposure at the cell membrane, while it does not affect u-PA levels. TGF-β1-dependent chemoinvasion of reconstituted basement membrane exploits the cell-associated plasminogen activation system, since it is blocked by monoclonal antibodies against u-PA and against various u-PAR domains, as well as by anti-u-PAR aODN. We have also observed a cumulative effect of TGF-β1, b-FGF and PDGF in the invasion assay of HSC: in the presence of low amounts of TGF-β1 the chemoinvasive activity of PDGF and bFGF is dramatically increased. Also this cooperation requires u-PAR and is inhibited by monoclonal antibodies against u-PAR domains I, II and III.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-100
Number of pages14
JournalGrowth Factors
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Hepatic fibrosis
  • Hepatic stellate cells
  • Transforming growth factor-β1
  • Urokinase plasminogen activator receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology


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