In vivo imaging of antioxidant response element activity during liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy

Patrick Hamid Alizai*, Lea Bertram, Athanassios Fragoulis, Christoph J. Wruck, Daniela C. Kroy, Uwe Klinge, Ulf P. Neumann, Maximilian Schmeding

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) -antioxidant response element (ARE) pathway is important for the regulation of antioxidative stress response and detoxification. To activate the expression of its target genes, such as heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) and NAD(P)H dehydrogenase (quinone) 1 (NQO1), Nrf2 binds to the ARE within the promoter region of these genes. Partial hepatectomy and consecutive liver regeneration lead to oxidative stress with activation of the Nrf2-ARE pathway. The aim of this study was to investigate ARE activity in?vivo during liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy.Transgenic ARE-luc mice were used. In these mice, the luciferase reporter gene is under the control of an ARE promoter element. Following 2/3 partial hepatectomy (PHx), mice underwent in?vivo bioluminescence imaging up until the ninth postoperative day. In addition, liver tissue was analyzed by immunohistochemistry (Nrf2 and HO-1), quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (HO-1 and NQO1) and in?vitro luminescence assays.Bioluminescence imaging revealed a significant increase in Nrf2-ARE activity after PHx. The signal maximum was recorded on the third day after PHx. Seven days postoperatively, the signal almost reached baseline levels. In immunohistochemistry, significantly more hepatocytes were positive for Nrf2 and HO-1 on the third postoperative day compared with baseline levels. The mRNA expression of HO-1 and NQO1 were significantly increased on day 3 as measured by qRT-PCR.This study demonstrated the time-dependent activation of the Nrf2-ARE system during liver regeneration in?vivo. The transgenic ARE-luc mouse provided a convenient model for studying Nrf2-mediated gene expression noninvasively and may facilitate further experiments with therapeutic modulation of the antioxidative stress response.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-535
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


  • Antioxidant response element
  • Liver regeneration
  • Nrf2
  • HO-1
  • In vivo imaging
  • Bioluminescence
  • Partial hepatectomy
  • Oxidative stress

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