Coculture of human liver macrophages and cholangiocytes leads to CD40-dependent apoptosis and cytokine secretion

E. B. Alabraba, V. Lai, L. Boon, S. J. Wigmore, D. H. Adams, S. C. Afford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In the vanishing bile duct syndromes (VBDS), primary biliary cirrhosis and chronic allograft rejection, cholangiocyte apoptosis is associated with sustained macrophage infiltration of the liver, suggesting that these cells may mediate tissue damage and contribute to bile duct destruction. We have previously reported that activation of CD40 on cholangiocytes with either soluble CD154 or cross-linking monoclonal antibody to CD40 induces apoptosis in vitro. We have now developed a novel primary human cell coculture model and used it to investigate (1) how macrophages kill cholangiocytes; (2) how paracrine cell interactions can shape the local cytokine milieu within the liver. We report that lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and interferon (IFN) induce sustained expression of CD154 on liver-derived macrophages (LDM) in vitro. Coculture of activated LDM expressing high levels of CD154 (CD40 ligand) with human cholangiocytes resulted in (1) CD40-dependent secretion of proinflammatory cytokines; (2) apoptosis of cholangiocytes that was abolished by antagonistic antibodies directed against human CD40 or human CD154. Conclusion: Macrophages are important effector cells in bile duct destruction in VBDS, and this role is dependent on CD40-mediated mechanisms. Thus activation of CD40 on cholangiocytes by activated macrophages provides a molecular mechanism to amplify chronic inflammation and bile duct destruction in liver disease. These data suggest that effective targeting strategies to antagonize CD40/CD154 may have beneficial effects in patients suffering from the VBDS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)552-562
Number of pages11
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008


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