In rats, various growth factors and hormones, as well as partial hepatectomy (PH) are able to trigger the proliferative response of hepatocytes. Although recent evidence highlights the important role of thyroid hormones and thyroid status in regulating the growth of liver cells in vitro and in vivo models, the mechanism involved in the pro-proliferative effects of thyroid hormones is still unclear. Here we have investigated how in rats made hypo- and hyperthyroid after prolonged treatment respectively with propylthiouracil (PTU) and triiodothyronine (T3), the thyroid status affects liver regeneration after PH by regulating cell cycle and apoptosis proteins. Our results show that both in control and partially hepatectomized animals hyperthyroidism increases the cyclin D1, E and A levels and the activity of cyclin-cdk complexes, and decreases the levels of cdk inhibitors such as p16 and p27. On the contrary hypothyroidism induces a down-regulation of the activity of cyclin cdk complexes decreasing cyclin levels. Thyroid hormones control also p53 and p73, two proteins involved in apoptosis and growth arrest which are induced by PH. In particular, hypothyroidism increases and T3 treatment decreases p73 levels. The analysis of the phosphorylated forms of p42/44 and p38 MAPK revealed that they are induced during hepatic regeneration in euthyroid and hyperthyroid rats whereas they are negatively regulated in hypothyroid rats. In conclusion our data demonstrate that thyroid status can affects liver regeneration, altering the expression and the activity of the proteins involved in the control of cell cycle and growth arrest.

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