Background: Ischemic injury by hepatic artery ligation (HAL) during obstructive cholestasis induced by bile duct ligation (BDL) results in bile duct damage, which can be prevented by administration of VEGF-A. The potential regulation of VEGF and VEGF receptor expression and secretion by bile acids in BDL with HAL is unknown. Aims: We evaluated whether taurocholic acid (TC) can prevent HAL-induced cholangiocyte damage via the alteration of VEGFR-2 and/or VEGF-A expression. Methods: Utilizing BDL,BDL + TC,BDL + HAL,BDL + HAL + TC, andBDL + HAL + wortmannin + TCtreated rats, we evaluated cholangiocyte apoptosis, proliferation, and secretion as well VEGF-A and VEGFR-2 expression by immunohistochemistry. In vitro, we evaluated the effects of TC on cholangiocyte secretion of VEGF-A and the dependence of TC-induced proliferation on the activity of VEGFR-2. Results: In BDL rats with HAL, chronic feeding of TC prevented HAL-induced loss of bile ducts and HAL-induced decreased cholangiocyte secretion. TC also prevented HAL-inhibited VEGF-A and VEGFR-2 expression in liver sections and HAL-induced circulating VEGF-A levels, which were blocked by wortmannin administration. In vitro, TC stimulated increased VEGF-A secretion by cholangiocytes, which was blocked by wortmannin and stimulated cholangiocyte proliferation that was blocked by VEGFR-2 kinase inhibitor. Conclusion: TC prevented HAL-induced biliary damage by upregulation of VEGF-A expression.
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