Mdr2 (Abcb4)-/- mice spontaneously develop severe biliary fibrosis via massive dysregulation of pro- and antifibrogenic genes

J Hepatol. 2005 Dec;43(6):1045-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2005.06.025. Epub 2005 Aug 15.


Background/aims: Mdr2 (Abcb4)-/- mice develop hepatic lesions resembling primary sclerosing cholangitis. Our aim was to characterize the evolution of fibrosis in Mdr2-/- mice.

Methods: Mdr2-/-mice and their wild-type littermates were sacrificed at 2, 4 and 8 weeks after birth. Hepatic collagen was determined biochemically. Fibrosis related transcript levels were quantified from livers by real-time RT-PCR, and MMP activities determined by substrate assays. Liver histology was assessed by connective tissue staining and immunohistochemistry for alpha-smooth muscle actin (alpha-SMA).

Results: Mdr2-/- mice demonstrated a time-dependent increase of relative and total hepatic collagen (fivefold at 8 weeks, compared to wildtype controls), and maximal alpha-SMA immunoreactivity at 4 weeks. Compared to wildtype controls profibrogenic mRNA levels for procollagen alpha1(I), TGFbeta1, TGFbeta2, MMP-2 and -13, TIMP-1, PDGFbeta receptor, and PAI-1 were upregulated up to 27-fold. Most transcripts peaked at 4 weeks, but procollagen alpha1(I) mRNA increased steadily, TIMP-1 mRNA was constantly elevated (20-fold), MMP-13 mRNA was suppressed and interstitial collagenase and gelatinase activities were downregulated.

Conclusions: Mdr2-/- mice spontaneously progress to severe biliary fibrosis. This is due to a characteristic temporal pattern of upregulated profibrogenic and downregulated fibrolytic genes and activities. These mice are an attractive model to test potential antifibrotics for the treatment of (biliary) liver fibrosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Bile Ducts, Intrahepatic / pathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Liver Cirrhosis / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B
  • P-glycoprotein 2