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Acta Histochem. 2009;111(2):157-65. doi: 10.1016/j.acthis.2008.05.005. Epub 2008 Aug 3.

Distribution of the interstitial Cajal-like cells in the gallbladder and extrahepatic biliary duct of the guinea-pig.

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Department of Histology and Embryology, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China.


It has been suggested that interstitial Cajal-like cells (ICLC) may be involved in the spontaneous rhythmic electrical activities of the extrahepatic bile duct system. The present study investigated the distribution and characteristics of ICLC, which are immunopositive for CD117/ Kit receptor tyrosine kinase, using immunohistochemistry employing a monoclonal antibody raised against CD117/Kit on whole-mount preparations. The Kit-positive ICLC were examined using confocal laser scanning microscopy or fluorescence microscopy. ICLC, immunoreactive for Kit, were pleiomorphic and/or spindle-shaped cells with a few bipolar processes and distributed in the smooth muscle layers of the gallbladder and bile duct system. They were scattered in the hepatic duct, cystic duct and gallbladder as well as in the upper part of the common bile duct. The ICLC gradually increased in number and formed a completed cellular network in the lower part of the common bile duct and ampulla. The numbers of ICLC in the ampulla were similar to that of the duodenum and significantly much greater in number than in the gallbladder and bile ducts. The density of the ICLC in the common bile duct was significantly higher than that of other bile ducts. Our results suggested that the ICLC might contribute to the regulation of the spontaneous rhythmic contraction and development of motility disorders of the bile duct system.

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