Immunohistochemical features of bile duct epithelial cells in normal and experimental liver conditions.
, Franchitto A
, Alvaro D
, Gaudio E
Department of Experimental Medicine--Section of Human and Clinical Anatomy, University of L'Aquila, Italy.
It is well known that estrogen (E) modulates the processes of liver growth and regeneration. However, while estrogen receptors (Er) have been detected in hepatocytes, little is known on the occurrence of Er in cholangiocytes and the role of E on the physiopathology of the biliary epithelium. The purpose of this study was to investigate the occurrence of Er and their alpha or beta subtypes in cholangiocytes of normal and Bile Duct Ligated (BDL) rats and to evaluate the role and mechanisms of E in the modulation of cholangiocyte proliferation. In this study normal and BDL rats (utilized as experimental model of cholestasis) were used. Er alpha and beta subtypes, CK-19, PCNA and Fas were analysed by immunohistochemistry. The antiestrogens tamoxifen or ICI 182,780 were administered in the BDL group and the effects on cholangiocyte proliferation (bile duct mass) and apoptotic phenomenon (Tunel and Fas expression) were evaluated. Our results demonstrated that cholangiocytes express both Er-alpha and Er-beta subtypes, while hepatocytes only express Er-alpha. The increased percentage of cholangiocytes during BDL-induced proliferation was correlated with Er and PCNA expression and with enlarged Bile Duct Mass (BDM). Treatment of BDL rats with antiestrogens induced: i) inhibition of cholangiocyte proliferadon as indicated by the decreased BDM and PCNA expression; ii) over-expression of Fas antigen in cholangiocytes and induction of apoptosis (TUNEL) and iii) inhibition of cholangiocyte secretory activities. In condusion, our findings demonstrate that cholangiocytes express Er which are up-regulated during cholangiocyte proliferation. Inhibition of Er with antiestrogens blocks cholangiocyte proliferation and triggers apoptosis of Fas+ cholangiocytes suggesting a crucial role of estrogens in modulating cholangiocyte proliferation during bile duct obstruction.
PMID: 11729979 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]