The immunological role of biliary epithelial cells in human liver transplant rejection

Transpl Immunol. 1997 Jun;5(2):142-51. doi: 10.1016/s0966-3274(97)80055-x.


From histopathological analyses after liver transplantation it is evident that the biliary epithilium is an important target for leucocytes of the graft recipient. Besides clinical and histopathological investigations undertaken by several authors it was also endeavoured to determine the immunological impact of the biliary epithelial cells (BEC) in vitro. As for the intrahepatic BEC, in vitro studies proved to be restricted owing to difficult isolation procedures and the limited number of cells yielded from transplanted organs. Therefore, studies on cultured extrahepatic BEC served as a model for the immunological features of the biliary epithelium in transplantation. Herein, in vivo and in vitro studies dealing with BEC and immunologically mediated hepatic disorders are reviewed in order to understand better the pathogenesis after liver transplantation. Furthermore, possible underlying mechanisms of BEC-directed immunity with regard to BEC-leucocyte interactions are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / pathology
  • Bile Ducts, Intrahepatic / immunology*
  • Bile Ducts, Intrahepatic / pathology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / pathology
  • Epithelium / immunology
  • Epithelium / pathology
  • Graft Rejection / immunology*
  • Graft Rejection / pathology
  • HLA Antigens / immunology
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Transplantation / immunology*
  • Rats


  • HLA Antigens