We have employed in situ hybridization to evaluate the molecular mechanisms responsible for hypoalbuminemia and increased liver collagen content in murine schistosomiasis. Results were compared using a simplified method of hybridizing isolated hepatocytes from Schistosoma mansoni-infected and normal mouse liver with mouse albumin (pmalb-2) and chick pro-alpha 2(l) collagen (pCg45) probes. Whereas hepatocytes from infected mice showed significantly less albumin mRNA than hepatocytes from control, there were more grains of procollagen mRNA in hepatocytes from infected as compared with control liver. Hybridization of infected liver tissue sections with the collagen probe showed more grains per field in granulomas than in liver regions, whereas with the albumin probe there was more hybridization in liver tissue than in granulomas. These results suggest that in murine schistosomiasis a reduction in albumin mRNA sequence content may be associated with decreased albumin synthesis and ultimately leads to hypoalbuminemia. In addition, although the granuloma seems to be the primary source of type I collagen synthesis, hepatocytes are also capable of synthesizing collagen, especially under fibrogenic stimulation.

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