Alfa and beta estrogen receptors and the biliary tree

Domenico Alvaro, G. Alpini, P. Onori, A. Franchitto, S. S. Glaser, G. Le Sage, F. Folli, A. F. Attili, E. Gaudio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


This manuscript summarizes recent data showing that estrogens and their receptors play an important role in modulating cholangiocyte proliferation. We have recently demonstrated that rat cholangiocytes express both estrogen receptors (ER)-α and -β subtypes, while hepatocytes only express ER-α. ER and especially the ER-β subtype, are overexpressed in cholangiocytes proliferating after bile duct ligation (BDL) in the rat, in association with enlarged bile duct mass and with enhanced estradiol serum levels. Cholangiocyte proliferation, during BDL, is impaired by estrogen antagonists (tamoxifen, ICI 182,780) which furthermore, induce the overexpression of Fas antigen and activate apoptosis of proliferating cholangiocytes. 17β-estradiol stimulates, in vitro cholangiocyte proliferation, and this effect is individually blocked by tamoxifen or ICI 182,780. Cholangiocyte proliferation during BDL was associated with an enhanced protein expression of phosphorylated extracellular regulated kinases (ERK)1/2 which is, in contrast, negatively modulated by tamoxifen in association with its antiproliferative effect. This indicates a major involvement of the ERK system in the estrogen modulation of cholangiocyte proliferation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-108
Number of pages4
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jul 31 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Cholangiocytes
  • Cholestasis
  • Estrogen receptors
  • Estrogens
  • Proliferation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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