Open Access Amniotic Membrane Application Reduces Liver Fibrosis in a Bile Duct Ligation Rat Model

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Abstract:

Biliary fibrosis and resultant cirrhosis are among the most common outcomes of chronic liver diseases. Currently, liver transplantation remains the only effective treatment. In seeking alternative therapeutic approaches, we focused on the potential use of the human amniotic membrane (AM). Indeed, AM has gained increasing importance for its antiscarring, anti-inflammatory, and wound-healing properties, as well as for the multipotent differentiation ability and immunomodulatory features of AM-derived cells. Intriguingly, we have recently demonstrated that placenta-derived cells reduce lung fibrosis in bleomycin-treated mice, and that AM patches reduce postischemic cardiac injury in rats. Hence, we have now investigated the effects of human AM on biliary fibrosis induced in rats through the bile duct ligation (BDL) procedure. A fragment of human AM was applied onto the liver surface after BDL and the effects on fibrosis establishment and progression were evaluated at different time points in comparison with fibrosis progression in control BDL rats. The degree of liver fibrosis was first assessed by the semiquantitative Knodell scoring system and, thereafter, by digital image morphometric analysis to quantify the area occupied by ductular reaction, activated myofibroblasts, and collagen deposition. We demonstrated a significant reduction in the severity of BDL-induced fibrosis in AM-treated rats. Indeed, while fibrosis progressed rapidly in control BDL rats, leading to cirrhosis within 6 weeks, AM-treated rats showed confined fibrosis at the portal/periportal area with no signs of cirrhosis, and a reduction in collagen deposition to about 50% of levels observed in control BDL rats. In addition, the AM was able to significantly slow the gradual progression of the ductular reaction and reduce, at all time points, the area occupied by activated myofibroblasts. These findings suggest that human AM, when applied as a patch onto the liver surface, might inhibit fibrosis progression in BDL-injured livers, and could protect against hepatic damage associated with fibrotic degeneration.

Keywords: Bile duct ligation; Ductular reaction; Human amniotic membrane; Liver fibrosis; Myofibroblasts; Placenta cells

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3727/096368910X522252

Affiliations: Centro di Ricerca E. Menni, Fondazione Poliambulanza-Istituto Ospedaliero, Brescia, Italy

Publication date: March 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.
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