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, 56 (3), 731-40

Analysis of Biliary Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition in Portal Tract Fibrogenesis in Biliary Atresia


Analysis of Biliary Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition in Portal Tract Fibrogenesis in Biliary Atresia

Yu-Hua Deng et al. Dig Dis Sci.


Background: The cellular origin of myofibroblast in the liver fibrosis remains unclear. This study was designed to investigate whether biliary epithelial cells (BECs) undergoing epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) might be found in patients with biliary atresia, thereby serving as a source of fibrotic myofibroblasts.

Methods: Liver sections from patients with biliary atresia were evaluated to detect antigen for the BECs marker 4 and cytokeratin-7 (CK-7), proteins (fibroblast-specific protein 1, also known S100A4; the collagen chaperone heat shock protein 47, HSP47) characteristically expressed by cells undergoing EMT, as well as myofibroblasts marker a-smooth muscle actin (a-SMA).

Results: Normal bile ducts BECs could express CK-7 and low levels of a-SMA; they did not express S100A4 and HSP47. However, BECs from biliary atresia resulted in increased expression of a-SMA, S100A4, with concurrent transition to a fibroblast-like morphology and decreased expression of AK-7. Furthermore, BECs in biliary atresia were associated with significant bile ductular proliferation and coexpressed both epithelial and mesenchymal markers.

Conclusions: From significant histologic evidence, the BECs forming small- and medium-sized bile ducts undergoing EMT may account for prominent bile ductular proliferation and directly contribute to fibrogenesis in BA.

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