Xanthine oxidoreductase is present in bile ducts of normal and cirrhotic liver

H M Martin, K P Moore, E Bosmans, S Davies, A K Burroughs, A P Dhillon, D Tosh, R Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (SciVal)


Xanthine oxidoreductase (XOR) is a widely distributed enzyme, involved in the metabolism of purines, which generates superoxide and is thought to be involved in free radical-generated tissue injury. It is present at high concentrations in the liver, from where it may be released during liver injury into the circulation, binding to vascular endothelium and causing vascular dysfunction. The cellular localization of the enzyme, essential to understanding its function, is, however, still debated. The present study has used a highly specific mouse monoclonal antibody to define the cellular distribution of XOR in normal and cirrhotic human liver. As shown previously, XOR is present in hepatocytes. However, the novel finding of this study is that XOR is present in bile duct epithelial cells, where it is concentrated toward the luminal surface. Moreover, in liver disease, proliferating bile ducts are also strongly positive for XOR. These findings suggest that the enzyme is secreted into bile, and this was confirmed by analysis of human and rat bile. Xanthine oxidase activity was 10- to 20-fold higher in liver tissue obtained from patients with liver disease than in healthy liver. We conclude that XOR is expressed primarily in hepatocytes, but is also present in bile duct epithelial cells and is secreted into bile. Its role in bile is unknown but it may be involved in innate immunity of the bowel muscosa.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1214-1223
Number of pages10
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2004


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