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, 28 (5), 1260-8

Interleukin-6, Hepatocyte Growth Factor, and Their Receptors in Biliary Epithelial Cells During a Type I Ductular Reaction in Mice: Interactions Between the Periductal Inflammatory and Stromal Cells and the Biliary Epithelium

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Interleukin-6, Hepatocyte Growth Factor, and Their Receptors in Biliary Epithelial Cells During a Type I Ductular Reaction in Mice: Interactions Between the Periductal Inflammatory and Stromal Cells and the Biliary Epithelium

Z Liu et al. Hepatology.

Abstract

The interleukin-6 (IL-6)/gp-80 and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)/met ligand/receptor systems have been shown to stimulate biliary epithelial cell (BEC) DNA synthesis in vitro. The mRNA and protein production of these two in vitro mitogens were mapped in vivo during the first week after bile duct ligation (BDL) when peak BEC DNA synthesis is seen. Changes around the biliary tree were compared with those seen in the peripheral liver using a combination of Northern blotting and a unique biliary tree isolation technique, in which the bile ducts and the surrounding portal stroma and inflammatory cells are separated from the hepatocytes by perfusion digestion. Further localization was performed with in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. In the normal liver, there is low-level expression of HGF mRNA by periportal stellate cells, and HGF protein localizes to these cells and to neutrophils; extracellular HGF protein is present in the bile. There is no detectable IL-6 mRNA by Northern analysis or IL-6 protein expression in the normal liver, but both met and IL-6 receptor (IL-6R) mRNA are detectable; met mRNA is expressed strongly in the biliary tree, and met protein is expressed weakly on hepatocytes and strongly on BEC. IL-6R mRNA is weakly expressed in the biliary tree, and IL-6R protein is detectable on hepatocytes, with a periportal-to-perivenular gradient, but not on BEC. During the first 3 days after BDL, HGF mRNA expression is increased in both the biliary tree and in the peripheral liver, and production is localized to stellate cells, periductal neutrophils, and stromal cells, which typically accompany the proliferating ductules. IL-6 mRNA and protein were detected only near the biliary tree after BDL, and not in the peripheral liver, and the production was localized to periductal hematolymphoid cells, which had the morphological appearance of macrophages and/or dendritic cells. There is also a distinct up-regulation of met and gp-80 mRNA and protein in the biliary tree, which is stronger than that seen in the peripheral liver. Met protein expression is increased, and IL-6R(gp-80) protein is induced on the proliferating BEC, consistent with the participation of both the HGF/met and IL-6/gp-80 systems in the early phases of type I ductular reactions. These observations show that periductal hematolymphoid and stromal cells are the source of BEC growth factors, and receptors for these factors are up-regulated on BEC during active ductular proliferation. Complex interactions between the inflammatory, stromal, and BEC results in a dysmorphogenic repair response that eventually leads to cirrhosis.

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