Aly/Aly mice: A unique model of biliary disease



An autosomal recessive murine mutation, coined “aly/aly” or “alymphoplasia,” was recently reported. Homozygotes for aly are defective in both humoral and cell-mediated immune function and have diffuse lymphoid cell infiltration of various tissues, particularly around the conduit ducts of the pancreas and salivary glands. In pilot studies in our laboratories, aly/aly mice were found to have peculiar biliary tract lesions, which were analyzed histologically and immunohistochemically in the present study. The livers of aly/aly mice older than 8 weeks consistently showed a variable lymphoid cell infiltration with lymph follicle formation in portal tracts; intrahepatic biliary epithelial cells showed various types of damage including pseudopyloric gland metaplasia and proliferative changes. In addition, the extrahepatic bile duct and intrahepatic large bile duct were found to contain an acidophilic substance in their epithelial cytoplasm. In the lumen and occasionally in the cytoplasm of these bile ducts, acidophilic crystals were also seen. Ultrastructurally, the intracytoplasmic acidophilic substances consisted of membrane-bound intracytoplasmic inclusions with homogeneous electron density, likely derived from rough endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Immunohistochemically, the cytoplasmic acidophilic substances were simultaneously positive for cystatin C, gastrin, serotonin, and somatostatin. In contrast, the acidophilic crystals did not react with any of these antibodies. These findings suggest that the intracytoplasmic acidophilic substances may contain a precursor of the peptide hormones, possibly because of defective secretion or intracellular transport. We believe that the aly/aly mouse is a useful model for the analysis of biliary metabolic events, and for studies of the interaction of the immune system and biliary destruction.