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Open Access α7-nAChR Knockout Mice Decreases Biliary Hyperplasia and Liver Fibrosis in Cholestatic Bile Duct-Ligated Mice

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α7-nAChR is a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor [specifically expressed on hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), Kupffer cells, and cholangiocytes] that regulates inflammation and apoptosis in the liver. Thus, targeting α7-nAChR may be therapeutic in biliary diseases. Bile duct ligation (BDL) was performed on wild-type (WT) and α7-nAChR−/− mice. We first evaluated the expression of α7-nAChR by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in liver sections. IHC was also performed to assess intrahepatic bile duct mass (IBDM), and Sirius Red staining was performed to quantify the amount of collagen deposition. Immunofluorescence was performed to assess colocalization of α7-nAChR with bile ducts (costained with CK-19) and HSCs (costained with desmin). The mRNA expression of α7-nAChR, Ki-67/PCNA (proliferation), fibrosis genes (TGF-β1, fibronectin-1, Col1α1, and α-SMA), and inflammatory markers (IL-6, IL-1β, and TNF-α) was measured by real-time PCR. Biliary TGF-β1 and hepatic CD68 (Kupffer cell marker) expression was assessed using IHC. α7-nAChR immunoreactivity was observed in both bile ducts and HSCs and increased following BDL. α7-nAChR−/− BDL mice exhibited decreased (i) bile duct mass, liver fibrosis, and inflammation, and (ii) immunoreactivity of TGF-β1 as well as expression of fibrosis genes compared to WT BDL mice. α7-nAChR activation triggers biliary proliferation and liver fibrosis and may be a therapeutic target in managing extrahepatic biliary obstruction.
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Keywords: Biliary epithelium; Cholestasis; Cholinergic; Fibrosis; Nicotine

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Medical Physiology, Baylor Scott & White and Texas A&M University Health Science Center, Temple, TX, USA 2: Research, Central Texas Veterans Health Care System, Temple, TX, USA 3: Surgery, Baylor Scott & White and Texas A&M University Health Science Center, Temple, TX, USA 4: Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA

Publication date: 22 August 2018

This article was made available online on 26 March 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "α7-nAChR Knockout Mice Decreases Biliary Hyperplasia and Liver Fibrosis in Cholestatic Bile-Duct Ligated Mice".

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  • Gene Expression, The Journal of Liver Research will publish articles in all aspects of hepatology. Hepatology, as a research discipline, has seen unprecedented growth especially in the cellular and molecular mechanisms of hepatic health and disease, which continues to have a major impact on understanding liver development, stem cells, carcinogenesis, tissue engineering, injury, repair, regeneration, immunology, metabolism, fibrosis, and transplantation. Continued research and improved understanding in these areas will have a meaningful impact on liver disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The existing journal Gene Expression has expanded its focus to become Gene Expression, The Journal of Liver Research to meet this growing demand. In its revised and expanded scope, the journal will publish high-impact original articles, reviews, short but complete articles, and special articles (editorials, commentaries, opinions) on all aspects of hepatology, making it a unique and invaluable resource for readers interested in this field. The expanded team, led by an Editor-in-Chief who is uniquely qualified and a renowned expert, along with a dynamic and functional editorial board, is determined to make this a premier journal in the field of hepatology.
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