, Volume 329, Issue 3, pp 503-514
Date: 19 Jun 2007

Thy-1 is an in vivo and in vitro marker of liver myofibroblasts

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Thy-1, a glycophosphatidylinositol-linked glycoprotein of the outer membrane leaflet, has been described in myofibroblasts of several organs. Previous studies have shown that, in fetal liver, Thy-1 is expressed in a subpopulation of ductular/progenitor cells. The aim of this study has been to investigate whether the liver myofibroblasts belong to the Thy-1-positive subpopulation of the adult liver. The expression of Thy-1 has been studied in normal rat liver, in the rat liver regeneration model following 2-acetylaminofluorene treatment and partial hepatectomy (AAF/PH), and in isolated rat liver cells, at the mRNA and protein levels. In normal rat liver, Thy-1 is detected in sparse cells of the periportal area, whereas 7 days after PH in the AAF/PH model, a marked increase of the number of Thy-1-positive cells is detectable by immunohistochemistry. Comparative immunohistochemical analysis has revealed the co-localization of Thy-1 and smooth muscle actin, but not of Thy-1 and cytokeratin-19, both in normal rat liver and in the AAF/PH model. Investigation of isolated rat liver cell populations has confirmed that liver myofibroblasts are Thy-1-positive cells, whereas hepatocytes, hepatic stellate cells, and liver macrophages are not. Thy-1 is the first cell surface marker for identifying liver myofibroblasts in vivo and in vitro.

Jozsef Dudas and Tümen Mansuroglu contributed equally to this study.
This work was supported by grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB 402, projects C6, D3, D4).