The Journal of Pathology, Volume 217, Issue 3, 353-361.
The NF-κB signalling pathway plays important roles in liver organogenesis and carcinogenesis. Mouse embryos deficient in IKKβ die in mid-gestation, due to excessive apoptosis of hepatoblasts. Although activation of the NF-κB signalling pathway has been demonstrated in human hepatocellular carcinoma, the role of NF-κB is controversial. Here, we have generated transgenic mice in which a constitutively active form of IKKβ was expressed in a hepatocyte-specific manner. Using electrophoretic mobility shift assay, we documented increased NF-κB activities and up-regulated levels of NF-κB downstream target genes, Bcl-xL and STAT5, in the transgenic mouse livers. These results confirmed that the NF-κB pathway was activated in the livers of the transgenic mice. However, there was no significant difference in tumour formation between transgenic and wild-type mice up to an age of 50 weeks. When we treated the transgenic mice with the chemical carcinogen diethylnitrosamine (DEN), we observed no significant differences in the incidence and size of liver tumours formed in these mice with and without DEN treatment at 35 weeks of age, suggesting that the activated NF-κB pathway in the livers of the transgenic mice did not enhance hepatocarcinogenesis. Interestingly, some of the transient transgenic embryos (E12.5) had abnormal excessive accumulation of nucleated red blood cells in their developing livers. In summary, NF-κB activation in hepatocytes did not significantly affect chemical hepatocarcinogenesis. In addition, the TTR/IKKCA transgenic mice may serve as a useful model for studying the role of NF-κB activation in hepatocarcinogenesis as well as inflammatory and metabolic diseases.
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