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Am J Pathol. 2007 Jan;170(1):176-87.

Identification and functional characterization of the hepatic stellate cell CD38 cell surface molecule.

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Immunology Unit, Department of Cellular Biology and Pathology, Medical School, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.


The activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) is a critical event in hepatic fibrosis, because these cells are the main producers of extracellular matrix proteins in the liver and contribute to the modulation of inflammatory responses via the secretion of several cytokines and the expression of adhesion molecules. The goal of the present study was to characterize cell surface proteins that regulate HSC activation. To this end, a panel of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) was generated. mAb 14.27 recognized a protein of 45 kd that was highly expressed on HSCs. Affinity purification of this protein followed by sequencing revealed that protein to be CD38. We subsequently demonstrated that CD38 was constitutively expressed by HSCs and that its expression increased after in vitro and in vivo activation. mAb 14.27 induced an increase in cytosolic Ca2+ levels in HSCs, showing that it functions as an agonistic antibody. Moreover, the effects mediated by the CD38 mAb included induction of the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 and up-regulation of the adhesion molecules intercellular adhesion molecule-1, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, and neural cell adhesion molecule. Collectively, our data suggest that CD38 can act as a regulator of HSC activation and effector functions.

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