Induction of elastin expression in vascular endothelial cells relates to hepatoportal sclerosis in idiopathic portal hypertension: possible link to serum anti-endothelial cell antibodies


Y. Nakanuma, Department of Human Pathology, Kanazawa University Graduate School of Medicine, 13-1 Takara-machi, Kanazawa 920-8640, Japan. E-mail:


Hepatoportal sclerosis accompanied by dense elastic fibre deposition is generally regarded as the primary lesion in the development of idiopathic portal hypertension (IPH). This study was performed to clarify the mechanism of elastic fibre deposition in the peripheral portal tracts of IPH liver in relation to serum anti-endothelial cell antibodies (AECA). In-vitro experiments were performed using human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HMVEC) and patients' sera. The presence of serum AECA was assayed by a cell-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using HMVEC. Immunohistochemical analysis of elastin was performed using liver tissue sections of IPH patients. IPH sera contained one or more AECA that could bind to the vascular endothelial cells of the peripheral portal tracts of the liver. When the value of AECA greater than the mean ± 2 standard deviations of healthy controls was regarded as positive, the positive detection rate of either immunoglobulin (Ig)G, IgA or IgM AECA in IPH sera was 30% (10 of 33 cases). IPH sera induced the expression of elastin in HMVEC, which appeared to be associated with the presence of AECA. Apoptosis was also induced in HMVEC by the stimulation with IPH sera. In vivo, elastin expression was observed in the endothelial cells of the peripheral portal tracts of IPH livers in a proportion of cases. The disease pathogenesis of IPH seems to be heterogeneous, and this study elucidated a possible contribution of the induction of elastin expression in the portal vessels to hepatoportal sclerosis of IPH, which might be linked to serum AECA as a causative factor.