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Histochem Cell Biol. 1999 Nov;112(5):387-401.

Localization of liver myofibroblasts and hepatic stellate cells in normal and diseased rat livers: distinct roles of (myo-)fibroblast subpopulations in hepatic tissue repair.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Gastroenterology and Endocrinology, University of Göttingen, Robert Koch Strasse 40, D-37075 Göttingen, Germany.


Previous in vitro studies indicated that hepatic stellate cells (HSC) and rat liver myofibroblasts (rMF) have to be regarded as different cell populations of the myofibroblastic lineage with fibrogenic potential. Employing the discrimination features defined by these studies the localization of HSC and rMF was analyzed in diseased livers. Normal and acutely as well as chronically carbon tetrachloride-injured livers were analyzed by immunohistochemistry and by in situ hybridization. In normal livers HSC [desmin/glial fibrillary acid protein (GFAP)-positive cells] were distributed in the hepatic parenchyma, while rMF (desmin/smooth muscle alpha actin-positive, GFAP-negative cells colocalized with fibulin-2) were located in the portal field, the walls of central veins, and only occasionally in the parenchyma. Acute liver injury was characterized almost exclusively by an increase in the number of HSC, while the amount of rMF was nearly unchanged. In early stages of fibrosis, HSC and rMF were detected within the developing scars. In advanced stages of fibrosis, HSC were mainly present at the scar-parenchymal interface, while rMF accounted for the majority of the cells located within the scar. At every stage of fibrogenesis, rMF, in contrast to HSC, were only occasionally detected in the hepatic parenchyma. HSC and rMF are present in normal and diseased livers in distinct compartments and respond differentially to tissue injury. Acute liver injury is followed by an almost exclusive increase in the number of HSC, while in chronically injured livers not only HSC but also rMF are involved in scar formation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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