Differences in the expression of hepatocyte growth factor in acute and chronic bowel inflammation—Implications for diagnosis?


Background: Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) acts as an acute phase protein with regenerative properties. HGF is produced systemically and locally during inflammation but exhibits decreased binding affinity to heparan sulphate proteoglycan (HSPG)/glycosaminoglycan during chronic inflammation. We previously observed a high faecal concentration and binding affinity of HGF to HSPG during acute gastroenteritis. High faecal concentrations of calprotectin and HGF have been reported in chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Methods: Stool samples from patients with ulcerative colitis in remission (n = 11) or exacerbation (n = 5), microscopic colitis (n = 11), colon cancer (n = 6), or acute gastroenteritis caused by Clostridium difficile (n = 20), as well as healthy controls (n = 7), were analysed for the presence of HGF by ELISA, surface plasmon resonance, SDS-PAGE, and Western blot. Then in two patients with ulcerative colitis exacerbation and C. difficile infection, the expression of HGF and calprotectin was studied in colonic biopsies. Results: The faecal concentration of HGF was significantly higher in patients with ulcerative colitis compared to the other groups. The binding affinity to dextran was lower in all groups compared to acute inflammation. HGF receptor binding was similar across groups. In a patient with concomitant C. difficile infection and distal ulcerative colitis, HGF was highly expressed in the part of the bowel unaffected by ulcerative colitis, but no expression was found at the site of chronic inflammation. In the patient with total colitis the biopsies showed low expression of HGF. The areas with chronic inflammation exhibited infiltrating calprotectin-stained neutrophils. Conclusion: HGF is produced locally during inflammation of the bowel. The HGF produced during acute inflammation or exacerbations of chronic inflammation by the unaffected area shows binding affinity to glucosaminoglycans. Measuring HGF binding in faeces and biopsies may be a tool for differentiating between acute and chronic bowel inflammation, which should be assessed thoroughly in future studies.

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Lönn, J. , Nakka, S. , Olsson, H. , Bengtsson, T. , Almer, S. and Nayeri, F. (2013) Differences in the expression of hepatocyte growth factor in acute and chronic bowel inflammation—Implications for diagnosis?. Advances in Bioscience and Biotechnology, 4, 33-42. doi: 10.4236/abb.2013.48A2006.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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