After massive liver cell necrosis, reactive ductules at the periphery of the necrotic area are thought to contain hepatic stem cells which differentiate into intermediate hepatocytes, regenerating the damged area.
In cirrhosis, it is still debated whether the reactive ductules are activated stem cells (so called `buds') or ductular metaplasia of cholestatic, injured hepatocytes.
Dr.Olga Falkowski and colleagues investigated the differentiation of intermediate hepatocytes from reactive ductules in cirrhosis.
The research team examined tissue explants from patients with cirrhosis associated with alcohol, hepaptitis or with primary sclerosing cholangitis and from patients with primary biliary cirrhosis.
777 out of 830 (94%) intraseptal heaptocytes (intermediate hepatocytes) were associated with reactive ductules.
Intraseptal heaptocytes largely represent `buds' of newly formed hepatocytes.
| Dr.Olga Falkowski |
In 3-D reconstructions, intermediate hepatocytes were seen to bud directly from the biliary tree.
Intermediate hepatocytes were rarely found to be cholestatic.
Reactive ductules throughout the biliary tree are though to contain stem cells which give rise to new intermediate hepatocytes in cirrhosis.