Corticosteroids modulate the secretory processes of the rat intrahepatic biliary epithelium

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Background & Aims: We investigated the expression of glucocorticoid receptors (GcRs) in the intrahepatic biliary epithelium and the role of corticosteroids in the regulation of cholangiocyte secretion. Methods: GcR was studied by immunohistochemistry, reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction, and Western blots. The effects of dexamethasone and budesonide on biliary bicarbonate excretion and H+/HCO3- transport processes were investigated in bile fistula rats, isolated intrahepatic bile duct units (IBDUs), and purified cholangiocytes. Results: GcRs were expressed by rat cholangiocytes. Although acute administration of corticosteroids showed no effect, treatment for 2 days with dexamethasone or budesonide increased (P < 0.05) biliary bicarbonate concentration and secretion, which were blocked by the specific GcR antagonist, RU-486. IBDUs isolated from rats treated with dexamethasone or budesonide showed an increased (P < 0.05) activity of the Na+/H+ exchanger (NHE1 isoform) and Cl-/HCO3- exchanger (AE2 member), which was blocked by RU-486. Protein expression of NHE1 and AE2 and messenger RNA for NH1 but not AE2 were increased (P < 0.05) in isolated cholangiocytes by dexamethasone treatment. Conclusions: The intrahepatic biliary epithelium expresses GcR and responds to corticosteroids by increasing bicarbonate excretion in bile. This is caused by corticosteroid-induced enhanced activities and protein expression of transport processes driving bicarbonate excretion in the biliary epithelium.




Alvaro, D., Gigliozzi, A., Marucci, L., Alpini, G., Barbaro, B., Monterubbianesi, R., … Benedetti, A. (2002). Corticosteroids modulate the secretory processes of the rat intrahepatic biliary epithelium. Gastroenterology, 122(4), 1058–1069.

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