Notch receptor expression in adult human liver: A possible role in normal bile duct formation and endothelial cell function

Sarbjit Nijjar, Heather Crosby, Lorraine Wallace, Stefan Hubscher, Alastair Strain

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81 Citations (Scopus)


Notch signaling is an evolutionarily conserved mechanism, used to regulate cell fate decisions. Four Notch receptors have been identified in man (Notch-1 to -4). In this study, semiquantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and immunohistochemistry were used to examine the expression pattern of Notch receptor genes in whole adult human liver and isolated liver cell preparations. All 4 receptors were expressed in the adult liver. with no significant differences in the levels of Notch-1, -2, and -4 messenger RNA (mRNA) between normal and diseased liver. However, Notch-3 expression appeared to be increased in diseased tissue. The distribution of Notch-1 and -4 in normal tissue was similar, with Notch-l also detectable at low levels in the sinusoidal endothelium. Notch-2 expression was more widely distributed, and detectable in hepatocytes, medium-sized bile ducts, and the sinusoidal endothelium. Notch-3 expression was seen on hepatocytes with weaker expression detectable in portal veins, hepatic arteries, and the sinusoids. In normal liver tissue Notch-1, -2, and -3 were found to be coexpressed on bile duct epithelium; however, with the exception of Notch-3 in primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) livers, expression was absent on proliferating ductules in all disease states examined. Interestingly, the expression of Notch-2 and -3 was associated with numerous small vessels within the portal tract septa of diseased tissue. The absence of Notch receptor expression on proliferating bile ductules and its presence on neovessels suggests that Notch signaling may be important for normal bile duct formation and the aberrant neovascularization seen in diseased liver tissue.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1184-1192
Number of pages9
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2001


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