Chloride-bicarbonate anion exchanger 2 (AE2) is expressed in a variety of tissues, including the liver and salivary glands, where it may participate in the generation of hydroionic fluxes into secretions.
We have previously reported decreased hepatic levels of AE2 messenger RNA in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), a cholestatic condition frequently associated with pluriglandular exocrine failure. Here we investigated the expression of AE2 protein in the liver of PBC patients. Using a monoclonal antibody against an AE2 peptide, immunohistochemistry was performed on liver biopsy specimens from subjects with normal liver (n = 7), patients with PBC (n = 13), and patients with cirrhosis or cholestasis other than PBC (n = 17 and 11, respectively). Immunostaining was graded from 0 to 7, according to its intensity and distribution. AE2 immunoreactivity was observed in normal livers, as previously reported, and in many pathological liver biopsy specimens, being mainly restricted to canaliculi and the luminal membrane of terminal and interlobular bile ducts.
Canalicular and ductular scores were significantly reduced in the PBC group compared with each control group (normal liver and cirrhosis or cholestasis other than PBC), whereas no differences in immunoreactivity scores were observed among control groups. When four patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) were analyzed, they also differed from those with PBC.
These results suggest that PBC is characterized by diminished expression of AE2 in the liver. Reduced levels of this transporter protein might be involved in the pathogenesis of cholestasis in PBC.
CITATION Hepatology. 1997 Jan;25(1):12-7
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