Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) stimulates the proliferation of hepatocytes and biliary epithelial cells and protects hepatocytes from apoptosis induced by various stimuli. In view of HGF induction by interferons, substances used for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C, this study was conducted to determine whether ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), which is widely used for the treatment of cholestatic liver diseases, modulates HGF production. UDCA did not induce HGF production in human dermal fibroblasts, but it potently inhibited phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate (PMA)- and cholera-toxin-induced HGF production without affecting cell viability. The inhibitory effects of UDCA were as potent as those of transforming growth factor-β1 and dexamethasone. Up-regulations of HGF gene expression induced by PMA and cholera toxin were also inhibited by UDCA. Moreover, UDCA dose-dependently inhibited high constitutive HGF production by MRC-5 cells without decreasing cell viability. Deoxycholate, chenodeoxycholate, taurochenodeoxycholate and glycochenodeoxycholate also inhibited cholera-toxin-induced HGF production at non-cytotoxic doses. UDCA, however, had no apparent effect on PMA-induced phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase, which is crucial for HGF induction by PMA. These results indicate that non-cytotoxic doses of UDCA inhibited constitutive and induced HGF production and suggest that UDCA supplemented with HGF or HGF inducers could have a more potential therapeutic effect.
2005 The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan