Evidence for microfilament involvement in norethandrolone-induced intrahepatic cholestasis.


An experimental study of norethandrolone (NED)-induced intrahepatic cholestasis was made. NED was infused via a portal vein catheter into rat liver in vivo, and measurements were made of bile flow. Liver specimens were taken at intervals for light microscopy and for transmission and scanning electron microscopy. Bile-canalicular-rich membrane fractions were prepared. The effects of NED were also examined in isolated hepatocytes in suspension culture. NED infusion induced total cholestasis by 3 hours. Canalicular alterations commonly associated with cholestasis were found in in vivo infused liver and in isolated hepatocytes. Pericanalicular microfilament changes were also noted in both, with loss of filament structure and replacement by a granular zone. In isolated canalicular membrane fractions prepared from NED-treated animals, the normal investment of pericanalicular filaments was no longer present. Loss of the bile canalicular ruthenium red surface coat was also noted. In view of the identical findings in isolated hepatocytes and in in vivo liver, obstruction and mechanical factors can be excluded as possible causes. The results raise the possibility that the mechanism of NED-induced cholestasis may be related to disaggregation and/or detachment of microfilaments from the canalicular membranes

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