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Am J Pathol. 2007 Nov;171(5):1529-37. Epub 2007 Sep 20.

Thy-1 is expressed in hepatic myofibroblasts and not oval cells in stem cell-mediated liver regeneration.

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  • 1First Department of Pathology and Experimental Cancer Research, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary.


Thy-1, a marker of hematopoietic stem cells, has been reported to be expressed by oval cells proliferating during stem cell-mediated regeneration in rat liver, suggesting a relationship between the two cell populations. Consequently, Thy-1 has become an accepted cell surface marker to sort hepatic oval cells. In the present study we used the well-characterized 2-acetylaminfluorene/partial hepatectomy model to induce transit-amplification of hepatic oval cells in the regenerating liver and characterized Thy-1 expression using Northern hybridization, quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction analysis, immunofluorescence confocal microscopy, and immunoelectronmicroscopy. We found that Thy-1 expression was induced during transit-amplification of the oval cell population, but Thy-1 mRNA was not present in the alpha-fetoprotein-expressing oval cells. Thy-1 protein was consistently present outside the basement membrane surrounding the oval cells. It overlapped frequently with smooth muscle actin staining. A similar cellular localization of the Thy-1 protein was found on human liver specimens with ductular reactions obtained from patients with fulminant liver failure. Furthermore, Thy-1 was expressed by myofibroblasts in experimental liver fibrosis models without oval cell proliferation. We conclude that Thy-1 is not a marker of oval cells but is present on a subpopulation of myofibroblasts/stellate cells.

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