Plasmalemmal Vesicle-Associated Protein Is Associated with Endothelial Cells Sprouting from the Peribiliary Capillary Plexus in Human Cirrhotic Liver

J Vasc Res. 2021 Jul 19;1-9. doi: 10.1159/000516923. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: Plasmalemmal vesicle-associated protein (PLVAP) is an endothelial-specific integral membrane glycoprotein that localizes to caveolae and fenestrae in animal models; however, little is known about PLVAP in endothelial cells (ECs) in hepatic sinusoids during liver cirrhosis (LC). Here, we aimed to elucidate PLVAP localization and expression in the human liver during LC progression.

Methods: PLVAP protein expression was detected in specimens from normal control livers and hepatitis C-related cirrhotic livers using immunohistochemistry, Western blotting, and immunoelectron microscopy.

Results: PLVAP mainly localized to the peribiliary capillary plexus (PCP) and was rarely observed in hepatic artery branches and portal venules in control tissue, but was aberrantly expressed in capillarized sinusoids and proliferated capillaries in fibrotic septa within cirrhotic liver tissue. Ultrastructural analysis indicated that PLVAP localized to thin ECs in some caveolae, whereas PLVAP localized primarily to caveolae-like structures and proliferative sinusoid capillary EC vesicles in cirrhotic liver tissue. Western blot analysis confirmed that PLVAP was overexpressed at the protein level in advanced cirrhotic liver tissue.

Conclusion: PLVAP was strongly expressed in the caveolae of proliferated capillaries directly connected with sinusoids linked with the PCP, suggesting that it plays a role in angiogenesis and sinusoidal remodeling in LC.

Keywords: Caveolin-1; Immunoelectron microscopy; Liver cirrhosis; Peribiliary capillary plexus; Plasmalemmal vesicle-associated protein.