Notch signaling is required for exocrine regeneration after acute pancreatitis.
BACKGROUND & AIMS: The mechanisms for tissue regeneration and renewal after acute pancreatitis are not well understood but may involve activation of Notch signaling. To study the effect of Notch signaling ablation during acute experimental pancreatitis, we used a chemical and genetic approach to ablate Notch signaling in cerulein-induced pancreatitis in mice. METHODS: Acute pancreatitis was induced by cerulein treatment in mice treated with the gamma-secretase inhibitor dibenzazepine or in conditional Notch1 knockout mice. Mice were characterized using immunohistologic, biochemical, and molecular methods. To investigate Notch and beta-catenin interaction, acinar 266-6 cells were analyzed using transfection and biochemical assays. RESULTS: Loss of Notch signaling results in impaired regeneration after acute pancreatitis with fewer mature acinar cells in dibenzazepine-treated and Notch1-deficient mice in the regenerative phase 3 days after induction. beta-catenin expression was increased and prolonged during exocrine regeneration. Crosstalk between Notch and beta-catenin-mediated signaling was identified, with Notch1-IC inhibiting beta-catenin-mediated transcriptional activity. This inhibition was dependent on a functional RAM domain. CONCLUSIONS: Inhibition of Notch signaling in vivo leads to impaired regeneration of the exocrine pancreas after acute pancreatitis. Our results suggest an interaction of Notch and Wnt signaling in pancreatic acinar cells, providing evidence for a role of these pathways in the regulation of the maturation process of acinar cells.