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Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is a molecule known to regulate macrophage accumulation at sites of inflammation. To elucidate the role of MIF in progression of liver fibrosis, the immunohistochemical localization of MIF and macrophages in the liver were examined. Male Wistar rats received thioacetamide (TA) injections (200 mg/kg, i.p.) for 1 or 6 weeks. In biochemical and histological tests, it was confirmed that liver fibrosis was induced. In immunohistochemical analyses, the expression of MIF protein was seen in hepatocytes in the areas extending out from the central veins to the portal tracts. In particular, at 6 weeks, immunoreactivity was detected in degenerated hepatocytes adjacent to the fibrotic areas but hardly observed in the fibrotic areas. On the other hand, a number of exudate macrophages stained by antibody ED1 were seen in the areas from the central veins to the portal tracts at 1 week and in the fibrotic areas at 6 weeks. Macrophages also showed a significant increase in number as compared with controls. These results revealed that there was a close relationship between the appearance of MIF expression and ED1-positive exudate macrophages in degenerated hepatocytes during the progression of TA-induced liver fibrosis.
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