Immunohistochemical localization of transforming growth factor β-1 and its relationship with collagen expression in advanced liver fibrosis due to biliary atresia
Christian Farrington1, Don Novak1, Chen Liu2, Allah B Haafiz1
1Hepatology and Liver Transplantation, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, 2Department of Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL, USA
Purpose: Biliary atresia (BA) is the most common indication of liver transplantation in children. Pathogenesis of hepatic fibrosis, which is a prominent feature of BA, remains obscure. The purpose of this work was to determine the cellular sources of transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGFβ1) and establish the relationship between TGFβ1-producing cells and extracellular matrix producing myofibroblasts (MFBs) in advanced BA.
Methods: Trichrome staining and immunohistochemistry were carried out to determine the expression pattern of collagen and TGFβ1 protein in explant liver specimens from patients with BA. The intensities of portal and lobular TGFβ1 expressions were compared. Immunofluorescence technique was carried out to determine the relationship between α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA)-positive-MFB and TGFβ1-positve cells.
Results: Lobular TGFβ1 protein expression was significantly higher than portal (89 ± 6 versus 10 ± 1 arbitrary units, P ≤ 0.05), whereas no difference was noted in livers used as control (10 ± 1.6 versus 19 ± 5 arbitrary units, P = 0.11). TGFβ1 expression was more in the center of nodules versus MFB in surrounding fibrous septa. Contrary to TGFβ1 expression, α1-SMA was mostly expressed in the portal structures and the adjacent fibrous septa enacting lobulation of the parenchyma. The results obtained by coimmunofluorescence staining showed no colocalization of α-SMA and TGFβ1.
Conclusions: TGFβ1 protein expression is mostly localized to hepatocytes in advanced BA. These findings suggest a paracrine mechanisms of TGFβ1-driven fibrogenesis in advanced BA.
Keywords: biliary atresia, liver fibrosis, transforming growth factor β-1, liver transplantation
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