• Rat liver;
  • cholestasis;
  • immunohistochemistry;
  • extracellular matrix;
  • hepatocyte;
  • Ito cell


Collagens (I, III, and IV), fibronectin, and laminin were localized using the indirect immunoperoxidase technique 14 days after bile duct ligation, i. e., when extensive fibrosis and numerous neoformed bile ducts were observed. Extensive fibrous septa in enlarged portal spaces were stained for collagens I, III and IV, fibronectin, and laminin. Collagen IV and laminin were abundant around proliferative bile ducts. In addition, collagen IV was nearly continuous in the sinusoids. At the ultrastructural leve, antigens were localized in the endoplasmic reticulum of several liver cell types. In portal spaces, bile duct cells and cells that form the transitional canal of Hering were strongly labelled for basement membrane components, particulariy laminin, but not for collagens I and III and fibronectin, which were abundant in fibroblast-like cells. Inside the lobule, only Ito cells and, to a lesser extent, endothelial cells contained collagens, fibronectin, and laminin. Ito cells were found to be heavily stained for collagens III and IV, and laminin. Except for fibronectin, which was always abundant, precursors of extracellular matrix proteins were only slightly detectable in the endoplasmic reticulum of some heptocytes, particularly those located close to altered areas. This study demonstrates that experimental extrahepatic cholestasis in the rat induces periportal fibrosis and continuous deposition of collagen IV in the sinusoids. Several cell types participate in the formation of extracellular matrix components, particularly bile duct cells and Ito cells, with a possible involvement of hepatocytes, thus suggesting that cholestasis provokes changes in the pattern of matrix protein production in liver cells.