Enhanced expression of endothelin B receptor at protein and gene levels in human cirrhotic liver

Am J Pathol. 2001 Oct;159(4):1353-62. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9440(10)62522-9.


Endothelin (ET) has been implicated in the regulation of hepatic microcirculation and development of portal hypertension. This study examined the localization of ETA receptor (ETAR) and ETB receptor (ETBR) in cirrhotic liver tissues from patients with hepatocellular carcinoma with hepatitis C-related cirrhosis, and normal liver samples from patients with metastatic liver carcinoma. Anti-ETAR and ETBR antibodies were used for immunohistochemistry and Western blot. Immunoelectron microscopy was conducted using immunoglobulin-gold and silver staining. For in situ hybridization (ISH), human ETAR and ETBR peptide nucleic acid probes were used with the catalyzed signal amplification system. In normal liver tissue, immunohistochemistry revealed that ETBR was predominantly expressed on hepatic sinusoidal lining cells, particularly on sinusoidal endothelial (SECs) and hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), and ETAR was scantily expressed. These findings were confirmed by Western blot and ISH. In cirrhotic liver tissue, overexpression of ETBR was demonstrated by Western blot and ISH. Morphometric analysis showed significant increase of ETBR expression on HSCs and SECs in cirrhotic liver, particularly on HSCs. ETAR expression was increased but remained low. Enhanced ETBR expression in cirrhosis may intensify the effect of endothelin on HSCs and increase hepatic microvascular tone.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blotting, Western
  • Female
  • Gene Expression*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Liver Cirrhosis / genetics*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / metabolism*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / pathology
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptor, Endothelin B
  • Receptors, Endothelin / genetics*
  • Receptors, Endothelin / metabolism*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Receptor, Endothelin B
  • Receptors, Endothelin