Journal of Molecular Histology

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 53–64

The diffuse stellate cell system

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10735-007-9078-5

Cite this article as:
Zhao, L. & Burt, A.D. J Mol Hist (2007) 38: 53. doi:10.1007/s10735-007-9078-5


Hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) play an important role in liver fibrogenesis. Morphologically similar cells have been found at extrahepatic sites such as pancreas, kidney and colon. The true phenotypic relationship between these cells has not been fully established. We carried out immunohistochemical staining in normal tissues from liver, kidney, colon, pancreas, lung and heart, obtained from a range of species. Immunoreactivity to antibodies directed to synemin, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), nestin, neurofilament-L, β-tubulin, protein gene product 9.5 (PGP9.5), S100, desmin, alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) and vimentin was examined. Synemin was identified in HSCs, pancreatic stellate cells, mesangial cells and in peribronchiolar stellate-shaped fibroblasts. GFAP positivity was detected in HSCs and peribronchiolar stellate-shaped fibroblasts. Desmin immunoreactivity was detected in HSCs, pancreatic stellate cells, mesangial cells, periglomerular and peritubular fibroblasts, subepithelial fibroblasts, as well as in peribronchiolar stellate-shaped fibroblasts. Vimentin expression was evident in HSCs, periductal fibroblasts, pancreatic stellate cells, fibroblasts within the fibroconnective tissue capsule, mesangial cells, subepithelial fibroblasts and the interstitial cells of Cajal, as well as in peribronchiolar fibroblasts. Mesangial cells and peritubular fibroblasts showed nestin immunoreactivity. Our data indicates that mesenchymal cells at extrahepatic sites express many of the neural and muscle-associated proteins seen in HSCs; there are however species differences in the expression pattern of these proteins. The findings support the concept of a diffuse stellate cell system in mammals.


Stellate cells Mesenchymal cells Synemin Desmin 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Clinical and Laboratory Sciences and Institute of Cellular Medicine, Faculty of Medical SciencesUniversity of Newcastle upon TyneNewcastle upon TyneUK
  2. 2.University of Newcastle upon TyneNewcastle upon TyneUK

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