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Abstract

Secretin stimulates ductal secretion by interacting with secretin receptor (SR) activating cyclic adenosine 3′,5′-monophosphate/cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator/chloride bicarbonate anion exchanger 2 (cAMP[RIGHTWARDS DOUBLE ARROW]CFTR[RIGHTWARDS DOUBLE ARROW]Cl/HCOmath image AE2) signaling that is elevated by biliary hyperplasia. Cholangiocytes secrete several neuroendocrine factors regulating biliary functions by autocrine mechanisms. Melatonin inhibits biliary growth and secretin-stimulated choleresis in cholestatic bile-duct–ligated (BDL) rats by interaction with melatonin type 1 (MT1) receptor through down-regulation of cAMP-dependent signaling. No data exist regarding the role of melatonin synthesized locally by cholangiocytes in the autocrine regulation of biliary growth and function. In this study, we evaluated the (1) expression of arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AANAT; the rate-limiting enzyme for melatonin synthesis from serotonin) in cholangiocytes and (2) effect of local modulation of biliary AANAT expression on the autocrine proliferative/secretory responses of cholangiocytes. In the liver, cholangiocytes (and, to a lesser extent, BDL hepatocytes) expressed AANAT. AANAT expression and melatonin secretion (1) increased in BDL, compared to normal rats and BDL rats treated with melatonin, and (2) decreased in normal and BDL rats treated with AANAT Vivo-Morpholino, compared to controls. The decrease in AANAT expression, and subsequent lower melatonin secretion by cholangiocytes, was associated with increased biliary proliferation and increased SR, CFTR, and Cl/HCOmath image AE2 expression. Overexpression of AANAT in cholangiocyte cell lines decreased the basal proliferative rate and expression of SR, CFTR, and Cl/HCOmath image AE2 and ablated secretin-stimulated biliary secretion in these cells. Conclusion: Local modulation of melatonin synthesis may be important for management of the balance between biliary proliferation/damage that is typical of cholangiopathies. (HEPATOLOGY 2013)