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Am J Physiol. 1997 May;272(5 Pt 1):G1064-74.

Large but not small intrahepatic bile ducts are involved in secretin-regulated ductal bile secretion.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Scott and White Hospital, Temple, Texas, USA.


We have shown that agonist-regulated ductal secretion is limited to large cholangiocytes. To directly study cholangiocyte heterogeneity along the length of the normal biliary tree, we defined the genetic and functional expression of agonist-induced ductal secretion in intrahepatic bile duct units (IBDU) of different sizes. Small IBDU (< 15-microns diam) were separated from large IBDU (> or = 15-microns diam), and then ducts of different sizes were characterized by morphometric analysis, gene expression, secretin-induced adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP) synthesis, and secretion by change in luminal size in response to agonists. IBDU diameters ranged from 11 to 65 microns. Secretin increased ductal secretion solely in large IBDU. Forskolin induced a modest increase in ductal secretion in small IBDU but markedly increased ductal secretion in large IBDU. Secretion increased Cl-/HCO3- exchanger activity and cAMP levels in large but not small IBDU. Secretin receptor and Cl-/HCO3 exchanger mRNAs were detected only in large IBDU. We propose that agonist-induced ductal secretion occurs in large (> or = 15-microns diam) but not small (< 15-microns diam) intrahepatic ducts.

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