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Pediatr Dev Pathol. 2013 May-Jun;16(3):177-90. doi: 10.2350/12-11-1267-OA.1. Epub 2013 Jan 18.

Roles of myofibroblasts and notch and hedgehog signaling pathways in the formation of intrahepatic bile duct lesions in polycystic kidney rats.

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Department of Human Pathology, Kanazawa University Graduate School of Medicine, Kanazawa, Japan.


Polycystic kidney (PCK) rats, an animal model of Caroli's disease, show a dilatation of intrahepatic bile ducts (IHBD) called "ductal plate malformation." Mesenchymal cells and the Notch and Hedgehog signaling pathways in portal tracts are reportedly involved in the normal development of IHBD, although there have been no studies on the roles of these signaling pathways in PCK rats. We immunohistochemically examined the expression of the molecules related to these signaling pathways in portal tracts. All molecules related to these signaling pathways expressed in portal tracts in Sprague Dawley (SD) rats (control) were also expressed in PCK rats. Mesenchymal cells (myofibroblasts) were frequently found in the connective tissue of portal tracts of 20 embryonic-day-old (E20D), 1-day-old (1D), and 1-week-old (1W) SD and PCK rats and were abundant in PCK rats. Interestingly, myofibroblasts almost disappeared at in both strains of 3W rats. Jagged1 was expressed in mesenchymal cells in portal tracts and was abundant in PCK rats. Double immunostaining showed that Jagged1-positive cells were myofibroblasts. Notch2 and HES1 were expressed in cholangiocytes of the bile ducts of both rats. Sonic Hedgehog was similarly expressed in the bile ducts of both rats. A well-balanced and time-sequential expression of the Notch and Hedgehog family in portal tracts might be essential for the normal development of IHBD in E20D to 1W SD rats, and an imbalanced interaction of these molecules, particularly increased Jagged1 expression in periductal and periportal myofibroblasts and Notch2 expressed in cholangiocytes, may be involved in the formation of bile duct lesions in PCK rats.

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