Nerve Regulation of Cholangiocyte Functions
Cholangiocytes are epithelial cells that line the intrahepatic biliary tree, a three-dimensional network of interconnecting ducts of different sizes and functions. The objectives of this chapter are to review the recent findings related to the role of nerves in the regulation of cholangiocyte functions. Following an overview of the morphology of the biliary epithelium, we provide a brief summary of cholangiocyte functions followed by a description of the in vivo models and the in vitro experimental tools [e.g., purified cholangiocytes or isolated intrahepatic bile duct units (IBDU)] that allowed us to demonstrate the role of nerves in the regulation of cholangiocyte functions. Following a discussion on the receptors/transporters that are expressed by cholangiocytes, we discuss the role of cholinergic, adrenergic and dopaminergic nerves in the regulation of cholangiocyte pathophysiology. The role of other neurotransmitters (e.g., bombesin and vasoactive intestinal peptide) on cholangiocyte functions is not covered here, as it is discussed in another chapter.