Mesothelial repair differs from that of other epithelial-like surfaces as healing does not occur solely by centripetal in-growth of cells as a sheet from the wound margins. Mesothelial cells lose their cell-cell junctions, divide, and adopt a fibroblast-like morphology while scattering across and covering the wound surface. These features are consistent with a cellular response to hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF). In this study, we examined the ability of mesothelial cells to secrete HGF/SF and investigated its possible role as an autocrine regulator of mesothelial cell motility and proliferation. We found that human primary mesothelial cells expressed HGF/SF mRNA and secreted active HGF/SF into conditioned medium as determined by ELISA and in a scattering bioassay. These cells also expressed the HGF/SF receptor, Met, as shown by RT-PCR and by Western blot analysis and immunofluorescence. Incubation of mesothelial cells with neutralizing antibodies to HGF/SF decreased cell migration to 25% of controls, whereas addition of HGF/SF disrupted cell-cell junctions and induced scattering and enhanced mesothelial cell migration. Furthermore, HGF/SF showed a small but significant mitogenic effect on all mesothelial cell lines examined. In conclusion, HGF/SF is produced by mesothelial cells and induces both motility and proliferation of these cells. These data are consistent with HGF/SF playing an autocrine role in mesothelial healing.
2001. Vol. 267, 258- p.