HGF is a powerful mitogen for both rat and human hepatocytes, epithelial cells and endothelial cells in vitro, and is angiogenic in vivo. It has considerable homology with plasminogen and has been shown to upregulate urokinase-type plasminogen activator (u-PA) in endothelial cells as well as u-PA and its receptor in kidney epithelial cells. In this study, we report that human recombinant HGF stimulates expression of plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1) and tissue factor (TF) in the human hepatoma cell line HepG2. PAI-1 antigen as determined by a specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay increased up to threefold in conditioned media of HepG2. This increase was dose dependent with maximum stimulation achieved with a concentration of 50 ng/mL of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). PAI-1 antigen also increased up to fourfold in the extracellular matrix in HGF treated HepG2. The production of the PAI-1 binding protein vitronectin (Vn) was not affected by HGF. In contrast, TF activity in HepG2 treated with HGF increased up to twofold. As determined by Northern blotting, PAI-1 and TF-specific mRNA were increased significantly in the presence of HGF, whereas Vn mRNA was not affected. The increase in PAI-1 and TF mRNA was also seen when HepG2 were incubated with HGF in the presence of cycloheximide, thereby indicating that de novo protein synthesis is not required to mediate the effect. u-PA could be detected neither in unstimulated or HGF-stimulated HepG2 cells on the antigen level nor on the mRNA level. In conclusion, our data give evidence that HGF, in addition to its proliferative effect for different cell types, is also involved in the local regulation of fibrinolysis and coagulation. One could speculate that HGF might modulate processes requiring matrix degradation by increasing the expression of the protease u-PA in one cell type and by upregulating the expression of the serine protease inhibitor PAI-1 in a different cell type. Because u-PA has been shown to activate latent HGF to the active form, it could furthermore be speculated that by upregulating PAI-1, which in turn could inhibit u- PA, HGF might regulate its own activation.

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