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Gastroenterology. 2008 Aug;135(2):660-70. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2008.04.009. Epub 2008 Apr 16.

Inhibition of integrin alphavbeta6 on cholangiocytes blocks transforming growth factor-beta activation and retards biliary fibrosis progression.

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  • 1Institute of Clinical Pharmacology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.

Abstract

BACKGROUND & AIMS:

Integrin alphavbeta6 is highly expressed on certain activated epithelia, where it mediates attachment to fibronectin and serves as coreceptor for the activation of latent transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1. Because its role in liver fibrosis is unknown, we studied alphavbeta6 function in vitro and explored the antifibrotic potential of the specific alphavbeta6 antagonist EMD527040.

METHODS:

Experimental liver fibrosis was studied in rats after bile duct ligation (BDL) and in Mdr2(abcb4)(-/-) mice. Different doses of EMD527040 were given to rats from week 2 to 6 after BDL and to Mdr2(-/-) mice from week 4 to 8. Liver collagen was quantified, and expression of alphavbeta6 and fibrosis-related transcripts was determined by quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. alphavbeta6-expressing cells, bile duct proliferation, and apoptosis were assessed histologically. The effect of EMD527040 on cholangiocyte adhesion, proliferation, apoptosis, and TGF-beta1 activation was studied in vitro.

RESULTS:

alphavbeta6 was highly expressed on proliferating bile duct epithelia in fibrosis, with 100-fold increased transcript levels in advanced fibrosis. EMD527040 attenuated bile ductular proliferation and peribiliary collagen deposition by 40%-50%, induced down-regulation of fibrogenic and up-regulation of fibrolytic genes, and improved liver architecture and function. In vitro alphavbeta6 inhibition reduced activated cholangiocyte proliferation, their adhesion to fibronectin, and endogenous activation of TGF-beta1 by 50% but did not affect bile duct apoptosis.

CONCLUSIONS:

Integrin alphavbeta6 is strongly up-regulated in proliferating bile duct epithelia and drives fibrogenesis via adhesion to fibronectin and auto/paracrine TGF-beta1 activation. Pharmacologic inhibition of alphavbeta6 potently inhibits the progression of primary and secondary biliary fibrosis.

PMID:
18538673
PMCID:
PMC3505071
DOI:
10.1053/j.gastro.2008.04.009
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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