, Volume 25, Issue 12, pp 1189-1192

Immuno-isolation and culture of biliary epithelial cells from normal human liver

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Biliary epithelial cells (BEC) lining the intra-hepatic biliary ducts are the site of damage in several immunologically mediated liver diseases. BEC are difficult to isolate since they represent only 5% of the total cell number in normal liver. In this communication, a novel method for their isolation from normal liver is presented using a monoclonal antibody (HEA125) with specificity for an epithelial cell surface glyco-protein reported to be expressed in liver only by biliary epithelium. By combining differential density centrifugation and immuno-magnetic separation using HEA125 pure BEC (105 cells/g fresh tissue) were prepared routinely. These cells were maintained in culture for up to 4 weeks with significant increases in cell numbers. The ability to prepare BEC from human liver offers an opportunity to develop In Vitro models to investigate the aetiology of diseases in intra-hepatic biliary epithelium.

EDITOR’S STATEMENT This is a novel application to purification of specific liver cell types directly from tissue. It is well-suited for rapid communication because of its novelty and potential utility to investigators.