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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2003 Jul;285(1):G31-6. Epub 2003 Feb 26.

Bile acids activate EGF receptor via a TGF-alpha-dependent mechanism in human cholangiocyte cell lines.

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Mayo Medical School, Clinic, and Foundation, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Bile acids transactivate the EGF receptor (EGFR) in cholangiocytes. However, the mechanisms by which bile acids transactivate the EGFR remain unknown. Our aims were to examine the effects of bile acids on EGFR activation in human cholangiocyte cell lines KMBC and H-69. Bile acids stimulated cell growth and induced EGFR phosphorylation in a ligand-dependent manner. Although cells constitutively expressed several EGFR ligands, only transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-alpha) antisera effectively blocked bile acid-induced EGFR phosphorylation. Consistent with the concept that matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activity is requisite for TGF-alpha membrane release and ligand function, bile acid transactivation of EGFR and cell growth was blocked by an MMP inhibitor. In conclusion, bile acids activate EGFR via a TGF-alpha-dependent mechanism, and this EGFR activation promotes cellular growth.

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