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Open Access Blood‐Bile Barrier: Morphology, Regulation, and Pathophysiology

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The term blood‐bile barrier (BBlB) refers to the physical structure within a hepatic lobule that compartmentalizes and hence segregates sinusoidal blood from canalicular bile. Thus, this barrier provides physiological protection in the liver, shielding the hepatocytes from bile toxicity and restricting the mixing of blood and bile. BBlB is primarily composed of tight junctions; however, adherens junction, desmosomes, gap junctions, and hepatocyte bile transporters also contribute to the barrier function of the BBlB. Recent findings also suggest that disruption of BBlB is associated with major hepatic diseases characterized by cholestasis and aberrations in BBlB thus may be a hallmark of many chronic liver diseases. Several molecular signaling pathways have now been shown to play a role in regulating the structure and function and eventually contribute to regulation of the BBlB function within the liver. In this review, we will discuss the structure and function of the BBlB, summarize the methods to assess the integrity and function of BBlB, discuss the role of BBlB in liver pathophysiology, and finally, discuss the mechanisms of BBlB regulation. Collectively, this review will demonstrate the significance of the BBlB in both liver homeostasis and hepatic dysfunction.
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Keywords: Adherens junction; Blood‐bile barrier (BBlB); Hepatocyte polarity; Liver tight junction; Paracellular space

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Publication date: April 18, 2019

This article was made available online on January 15, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "Blood Bile Barrier: Morphology, Regulation and Pathophysiology".

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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.

    From Volume 16, Gene Expression The Journal of Liver Research is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND license.

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