Mice With Increased Numbers of Polyploid Hepatocytes Maintain Regenerative Capacity But Develop Fewer Hepatocellular Carcinomas Following Chronic Liver Injury

Yu Hsuan Lin, Shuyuan Zhang, Min Zhu, Tianshi Lu, Kenian Chen, Zhuoyu Wen, Shidan Wang, Guanghua Xiao, Danni Luo, Yuemeng Jia, Lin Li, Malcolm P MacConmara, Yujin Hoshida, Amit G. Singal, Adam Yopp, Tao Wang, Hao Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Thirty to 90% of hepatocytes contain whole-genome duplications, but little is known about the fates or functions of these polyploid cells or how they affect development of liver disease. We investigated the effects of continuous proliferative pressure, observed in chronically damaged liver tissues, on polyploid cells. Methods: We studied Rosa-rtTa mice (controls) and Rosa-rtTa;TRE-short hairpin RNA mice, which have reversible knockdown of anillin, actin binding protein (ANLN). Transient administration of doxycycline increases the frequency and degree of hepatocyte polyploidy without permanently altering levels of ANLN. Mice were then given diethylnitrosamine and carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) to induce mutations, chronic liver damage, and carcinogenesis. We performed partial hepatectomies to test liver regeneration and then RNA-sequencing to identify changes in gene expression. Lineage tracing was used to rule out repopulation from non-hepatocyte sources. We imaged dividing hepatocytes to estimate the frequency of mitotic errors during regeneration. We also performed whole-exome sequencing of 54 liver nodules from patients with cirrhosis to quantify aneuploidy, a possible outcome of polyploid cell divisions. Results: Liver tissues from control mice given CCl4 had significant increases in ploidy compared with livers from uninjured mice. Mice with knockdown of ANLN had hepatocyte ploidy above physiologic levels and developed significantly fewer liver tumors after administration of diethylnitrosamine and CCl4 compared with control mice. Increased hepatocyte polyploidy was not associated with altered regenerative capacity or tissue fitness, changes in gene expression, or more mitotic errors. Based on lineage-tracing experiments, non-hepatocytes did not contribute to liver regeneration in mice with increased polyploidy. Despite an equivalent rate of mitosis in hepatocytes of differing ploidies, we found no lagging chromosomes or micronuclei in mitotic polyploid cells. In nodules of human cirrhotic liver tissue, there was no evidence of chromosome-level copy number variations. Conclusions: Mice with increased polyploid hepatocytes develop fewer liver tumors following chronic liver damage. Remarkably, polyploid hepatocytes maintain the ability to regenerate liver tissues during chronic damage without generating mitotic errors, and aneuploidy is not commonly observed in cirrhotic livers. Strategies to increase numbers of polypoid hepatocytes might be effective in preventing liver cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1698-1712.e14
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 2020


  • Cell Division
  • DEN
  • HCC
  • Mouse Model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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