Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(1):137-144. doi:10.7150/ijms.36337

Research Paper

Biological and Proteomic Characteristics of an Immortalized Human Pancreatic Stellate Cell Line

Li Sun1*, Limei Qu1*, David R Brigstock2, Hongyan Li1, Yanyan Li1, Runping Gao1✉

1. Department of Hepatic Biliary Pancreatic Medicine, First Hospital of Jilin University, Changchun, 130021, China
2. Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, 43205, United States
*Sun L and Qu LM contributed equally to this article

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Sun L, Qu L, Brigstock DR, Li H, Li Y, Gao R. Biological and Proteomic Characteristics of an Immortalized Human Pancreatic Stellate Cell Line. Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(1):137-144. doi:10.7150/ijms.36337. Available from

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Human pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) play a critical role in fibrogenesis during chronic pancreatitis (CP). However, primary PSCs have a short lifespan in vitro, which seriously affects their use in various applications. We have established a stable immortalized human PSC line (HP-1) by RSV promoter/enhancer-driven SV40 T antigen expression in primary activated human PSCs. HP-1 cells express cytoskeleton proteins including glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), vimentin and desmin, and are typical of PSCs, which are high transfeciability and viable in 0.5% serum. The cells express receptors such as TGFβR2, PDGFR, TGF-β pseudoreceptor Bambi and PPRPγ that are commonly found in PSCs. HP-1 cells are similar to activated human PSCs in that they have enhanced expression of α-SMA, CTGF, Col1 and TIMP-2 mRNAs or proteins, as well as decreased expression of MMP-1/2 mRNAs or proteins in response to TGF-β1 stimulation. Comparative proteomics revealed 4,537 shared proteins between HP-1 cells and PSCs and no single protein in HP-1 cells versus PSCs. Statistical analysis reveals no significantly difference between HP-1 cells and PSCs in their expression of proteins associated with matrix and matrix remodeling. The similarity between HP-1 cell and PSC is further shown by the finding that only 9 proteins are differentially up-regulated > ± 2-fold in HP-1 cells and 13 proteins are up-regulated > ± 2-fold in PSCs and none of these proteins include ECM proteins, cytokines, growth factors or matrix remodeling regulatory proteins. Therefore, HP-1 cells can be used as an effective tool for the study of PSC-mediated pancreatic fibrosis.

Keywords: human pancreatic stellate cell, immortalization, TGF-β1, pancreatic fibrosis, proteomics