In recurrent primary biliary cirrhosis after liver transplantation, biliary epithelial cells show increased expression of mitochondrial proteins.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Virchows Archiv : an international journal of pathology (2015)


In biliary epithelial lesions in primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), mitochondrial proteins associated with deregulated autophagy are abnormally expressed. We examined whether this could be used as a diagnostic marker for end-stage PBC and recurrent PBC after liver transplantation. We examined the expression of the mitochondrial protein pyruvate dehydrogenase complex-E2 component and cytochrome c oxidase, subunit I (CCO), the autophagy-related marker microtubule-associated protein-light chain 3 (LC3), and p62/sequestosome-1 and the senescence markers p16(Ink4a) and p21(WAF1/Cip1) in small bile ducts and bile ductules in explanted livers from patients with PBC (n = 20) in comparison with liver tissue from control patients (n = 21) and post-transplant samples including recurrent PBC and cellular rejection (n = 28). Intense granular expression of mitochondrial proteins was significantly more frequent in small bile ducts in explanted livers with PBC than in control livers (p < 0.05). Post-transplant samples comprised of three groups: group A (positive for mitochondrial proteins, n = 7), group B (positive for either autophagy-related or senescence markers but negative for mitochondrial proteins, n = 7), and group C (all negative, n = 14). All but one case of group A were clinically and histologically diagnosed as recurrent PBC. In contrast, all cases of group B were diagnosed as cellular rejection. This study suggests that the expression of mitochondrial proteins in small bile ducts may be a useful diagnostic marker for end-stage PBC and recurrent PBC after liver transplantation.