Autocrine regulation of biliary pathology by activated cholangiocytes.
Additional Document Info
The bile duct system of the liver is lined by epithelial cells (i.e., cholangiocytes) that respond to a large number of neuroendocrine factors through alterations in their proliferative activities and the subsequent modification of the microenvironment. As such, activation of biliary proliferation compensates for the loss of cholangiocytes due to apoptosis and slows the progression of toxic injury and cholestasis. Over the course of the last three decades, much progress has been made in identifying the factors that trigger the biliary epithelium to remodel and grow. Because a large number of autocrine factors have recently been identified as relevant clinical targets, a compiled review of their contributions and function in cholestatic liver diseases would be beneficial. In this context, it is important to define the specific processes triggered by autocrine factors that promote cholangiocytes to proliferate, activate neighboring cells, and ultimately lead to extracellular matrix deposition. In this review, we discuss the role of each of the known autocrine factors with particular emphasis on proliferation and fibrogenesis. Because many of these molecules interact with one another throughout the progression of liver fibrosis, a model speculating their involvement in the progression of cholestatic liver disease is also presented.