Systems biological analyses reveal the hepatitis C virus (HCV)-specific regulation of hematopoietic development

Victoria M. Velazquez, Luke S. Uebelhoer, Manoj Thapa, Chris C. Ibegbu, Cynthia Courtney, Steven E. Bosinger, Joseph F. Magliocca, Andrew B. Adams, Allan D. Kirk, Stuart J. Knechtle, Daniel Kalman, Mehul S. Suthar, Arash Grakoui*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Chronic liver disease is characterized by the liver enrichment of myeloid dendritic cells (DCs). To assess the role of disease on myelopoiesis, we utilized a systems biology approach to study development in liver-resident cells expressing stem cell marker CD34. In patients with endstage liver disease, liver CD34+ cells were comprised of two subsets, designated CD34+CD146+ and CD34+CD146-, and hematopoietic function was restricted to CD34+CD146- cells. Liver CD34 frequencies were reduced during nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) compared to alcohol liver disease (ALD), and this reduction correlated with viral load in the HCV cohort. To better understand the relationship between liver CD34+CD146+ and CD34+CD146- subsets and any effects of disease on CD34 development, we used gene expression profiling and computational modeling to compare each subset during ALD and HCV. For CD34+CD146+ cells, increased expression of endothelial cell genes including von Willebrand factor, VE-cadherin, and eNOS were observed when compared to CD34+CD146- cells, and minimal effects of ALD and HCV diseases on gene expression were observed. Importantly for CD34+CD146- cells, chronic HCV was associated with a distinct "imprint" of programs related to cell cycle, DNA repair, chemotaxis, development, and activation, with an emphasis on myeloid and B lymphocyte lineages. This HCV signature was further translated in side-by-side analyses, where HCV CD34+CD146- cells demonstrated superior hematopoietic growth, colony formation, and diversification compared to ALD and NASH when cultured identically. Disease-associated effects on hematopoiesis were also evident by phenotypic alterations in the expression of CD14, HLA-DR, and CD16 by myeloid progeny cells. Conclusion: Etiology drives progenitor fate within diseased tissues. The liver may be a useful source of hematopoietic cells for therapy, or as therapeutic targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-856
Number of pages14
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


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