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Histopathology. 1993 Jul;23(1):11-9.

Reactive human bile ductules express parathyroid hormone-related peptide.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Leuven, Belgium.


Various cholestatic liver diseases as well as regeneration after submassive necrosis are accompanied by a striking increase in the number of bile ductules. These reactive bile ductules are thought to arise either from proliferation of pre-existing bile ductules or bile ductule-related facultative stem cells, or from ductular metaplasia of hepatocytes. Recently, we found that reactive bile ductules display neuro-endocrine features, and speculated that the substance(s), produced in the neuro-endocrine granules, might play a role in their growth and/or differentiation through an autocrine or paracrine pathway. Parathyroid hormone-related peptide has been shown to be encoded by a growth factor-regulated gene that may play a role in cell growth and differentiation. We studied the immunohistochemical expression of this peptide in human liver, including three normal biopsies, 11 cases of cholestatic liver disease, six cases of focal nodular hyperplasia and three cases of regenerating liver. In regenerating liver, primary biliary cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis and partial or intermittent obstruction, the majority of reactive ductular cells expressing neuro-endocrine markers also expressed parathyroid hormone-related peptide. In focal nodular hyperplasia, a smaller number of bile ductular cells expressed the peptide. These findings suggest that parathyroid hormone-related peptide is localized in bile ductular cells and may indicate a role for this hormone in the growth and/or differentiation of human reactive bile ductules.

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