Abstract:Background/Aims: Uncoupling proteins are thought to protect cells from oxidative stresses. Because uncoupling protein-2 is expressed in liver and reactive oxygen species are involved in pathogenesis of various liver diseases, this protein may protect liver cells from disease-associated oxidative stress. However, uncoupling protein-2 expression in human liver has not been examined. Methods: We investigated hepatic uncoupling protein-2 distribution in various liver diseases including primary biliary cirrhosis, autoimmune hepatitis, chronic viral hepatitis, and histologically normal liver by immunohistochemistry.Results: Uncoupling protein-2 was expressed in some hepatocytes, however, the degree of hepatocytic uncoupling protein-2 expression did not differ significantly among liver diseases and normal liver. Uncoupling protein-2 was abundant in biliary epithelial cells in primary biliary cirrhosis but not in other liver specimens. Enhanced uncoupling protein-2 expression in biliary epithelial cells was specific for primary biliary cirrhosis and did not result simply from cholestasis. The percentage of uncoupling protein-2 positive bile ducts in primary biliary cirrhosis patients treated with ursodeoxycholic acid was significantly lower than in untreated patients.Conclusions: These results suggest that uncoupling protein-2 is involved in the pathogenesis of primary biliary cirrhosis.