, Volume 52, Issue 7, pp 1613-1620
Date: 24 Mar 2007

Gallbladder Inflammation is Associated with Increase in Mucin Expression and Pigmented Stone Formation

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Mucin is a high molecular weight glycoprotein that plays an important role in protecting the gallbladder epithelium from the detergent effect of bile. However, it also participates in gallstone formation. There is little information about a possible relationship between gallbladder inflammation and mucin expression or gallbladder stones’ characteristics. The aims of this study were to investigate stone characteristics and patterns of mucin expression in the gallbladder epithelium and bile of gallstone patients, in relation to inflammation. Gallbladder bile and tissue samples from 21 patients were obtained at surgery. Mucin content was evaluated by gel filtration on a Sepharose CL-4B column. Dot blot for bile mucin apoproteins and immunohistochemistry staining for gallbladder mucosal mucin apoproteins were performed with antibodies to MUC2, MUC3, MUC5AC, MUC5B and MUC6. Staining intensity score (0–3) was used for assessment of antigen expression and the level of inflammation. Gallstone cholesterol content was determined in 16 patients. MUC 5AC and MUC 5B were demonstrated in 95.4 and 100% of gallbladder bile samples, respectively. Immunohistochemistry staining with antibodies to MUC 2, MUC 3, MUC 5AC, MUC 5B and MUC 6 were positive in 0, 100, 85.7, 100 and 95.4% of the gallbladder mucosal samples, respectively. Pigmented brown stones were associated with a higher level of gallbladder inflammation. Mucin species expressed in gallbladder epithelium are MUC3, MUC5AC, MUC5B and MUC6. MUC5AC and MUC5B are secreted into bile. Inflammation of the gallbladder is accompanied by a higher level of MUC5AC expression and is associated with pigmented brown stones.