Reversibility of experimental rabbit liver cirrhosis by portal collagenase administration

Bo Jin, Harvey J. Alter, Zhi Cheng Zhang, J. Wai Kuo Shih, Juan M. Esteban, Tao Sun, Yun Sheng Yang, Qi Qiu, Xiao Lin Liu, Lin Yao, Hai Dong Wang, Liu Fang Cheng

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19 Citations (Scopus)


The regression of cirrhosis is associated with increased intrahepatic collagenolytic enzyme activity. We investigated whether collagenase supplementation via portal vein infusion can retard cirrhosis development and/or reverse cirrhosis. In all, 35 rabbits were initially assigned to study. However, because of high surgical mortality and infection, only 15 animals completed study. Four normal controls (group I) received olive oil subcutaneously (SC) for 12 weeks followed by normal saline portal perfusion for 12 weeks. Four (group II) received CCl4 SC for 6 weeks followed by portal vein collagenase, 6 mg twice weekly, plus SC CCl4 for 6 additional weeks and then killed. Four rabbits (group III) received CCl 4 SC for 12 weeks and then 6 mg of collagenase portally for 12 weeks, while three control rabbits (group IV) received CCl4 for 12 weeks followed by saline for 12 weeks. After 12 weeks of CCl4, liver hydroxyproline content of collagenase-treated group II (361.1±106.6 μg/g) was significantly reduced compared with group III+IV that had not yet received collagenase (589.0±162.9 μg/g; P<0.05). In the main comparison, hydroxyproline content of collagenase-treated group III (177.5±35.6 μg/g) was significantly decreased compared with saline-treated controls (446.3±150.1 μg/g; P<0.01). Further, liver histology showed complete regression of cirrhosis in the collagenase-treated animals. No toxicity of liver, kidney, lung, brain or heart was observed histologically. Anaphylaxis occurred in 2/35 original animals (one fatal). In conclusion, this study provides 'proof of principle' that collagenase portal administration can retard cirrhosis development and speed regression of established cirrhosis in the rabbit CCl4 model. Potential application to humans is premature, but feasible, if these findings are confirmed in additional animal studies. © 2005 USCAP, Inc All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)992-1002
JournalLaboratory Investigation
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2005


  • Carbon tetrachloride
  • Collagenase
  • Experimental
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Portal vein
  • Rabbit
  • Therapeutics


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