Altered expression and function of hepatocyte gap junctions after common bile duct ligation in the rat

Am J Physiol. 1995 May;268(5 Pt 1):C1186-94. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.1995.268.5.C1186.


Gap junction channels allow intercellular exchange of ions and small molecules between adjacent cells. Such communication coordinates cellular and organ function in tissues, although it is unclear if altered gap junction expression and communication contribute to organ dysfunction in pathological states. We examined the immunofluorescent (IF) localization and mRNA and protein levels of the two hepatocyte gap junction proteins connexin 32 and connexin 26, after hepatic injury induced by common bile duct ligation (CBDL) in the rat. Intercellular communication was measured by comparing gap junction-mediated coordination of hormone-induced Ca2+ signals in isolated rat hepatocyte couplets from control and CBDL animals. Connexin 32 plasma membrane IF, protein, and mRNA levels decreased markedly early after CBDL and remained low at 14 days. Connexin 26 plasma membrane IF and protein levels also decreased markedly after CBDL, but mRNA levels rose, and a partial return in membrane IF and protein levels was noted at 9 and 14 days. Coordination of vasopressin-induced Ca2+ signals between cells in isolated rat hepatocyte couplets 1 day after CBDL was significantly impaired compared with controls. These results demonstrate that hepatocyte gap junction communication is impaired early after CBDL because of decreased connexin protein levels. Disruption of gap junctions after CBDL may contribute to loss of hepatic functions that depend on gap junction communication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Communication
  • Cholestasis / pathology
  • Cholestasis / physiopathology
  • Common Bile Duct / physiopathology*
  • Connexin 26
  • Connexins / genetics
  • Connexins / metabolism
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Gap Junctions / physiology*
  • Ligation
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Signal Transduction


  • Connexins
  • Gjb2 protein, rat
  • RNA, Messenger
  • connexin 32
  • Connexin 26
  • Calcium