Evidence for epithelial-mesenchymal transitions in adult liver cells.
Both myofibroblastic hepatic stellate cells (HSC) and hepatic epithelial progenitors accumulate in damaged livers. In some injured organs, the ability to distinguish between fibroblastic and epithelial cells is sometimes difficult because cells undergo epithelial-mesenchymal transitions (EMT). During EMT, cells coexpress epithelial and mesenchymal cell markers. To determine whether EMT occurs in adult liver cells, we analyzed the expression profile of primary HSC, two HSC lines, and hepatic epithelial progenitors. As expected, all HSC expressed HSC markers. Surprisingly, these markers were also expressed by epithelial progenitors. In addition, one HSC line expressed typical epithelial progenitor mRNAs, and these epithelial markers were inducible in the second HSC line. In normal and damaged livers, small ductular-type cells stained positive for an HSC marker. In conclusion, HSC and hepatic epithelial progenitors both coexpress epithelial and mesenchymal markers, providing evidence that EMT occurs in adult liver cells.
Sicklick, JK; Choi, SS; Bustamante, M; McCall, SJ; Pérez, EH; Huang, J; Li, Y-X; Rojkind, M; Diehl, AM
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