Appearance of denuded hepatic stellate cells and their subsequent myofibroblast-like transformation during the early stage of biliary fibrosis in the rat
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- Tao, LH., Enzan, H., Hayashi, Y. et al. Med Electron Microsc (2000) 33: 217. doi:10.1007/s007950000022
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To investigate the early in vivo response of hepatic stellate cells in biliary fibrosis, we examined rat livers during the first 7 days after bile duct ligation using light microscopy, immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy, and immunoelectron microscopy. At day 1 after bile duct ligation, α-smooth muscle actin-positive fibroblasts appeared and then increased in number around the proliferating bile ductules. With time, the destruction of the external limiting plate became accentuated because of the invasion of the proliferating bile ductules and periductural fibrosis. At day 7, stromal cells containing fat droplets appeared in the fibrous tissue adjacent to the periportal parenchyma; these are termed denuded hepatic stellate cells. In the fibrous tissue disconnected from the liver parenchyma, the denuded hepatic stellate cells were replaced by myofibroblast-like cells. Meanwhile, the expression of transforming growth factor-β1 on biliary epithelial cells increased. These results indicate the dual origin of myofibroblasts in experimental biliary fibrosis, the periductural and periductal fibroblasts in the initial stage, and the denuded hepatic stellate cells in the subsequent stage. These two types of stromal cells may undergo myofibroblastic transformation by the transforming growth factor-β1 secreted by the proliferating biliary epithelial cells.