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Translocation of p21Cip1/WAF1 from the nucleus to the cytoplasm correlates with pancreatic myofibroblast to fibroblast cell conversion
  1. F Manapov,
  2. P Muller,
  3. J Rychly
  1. Department of Internal Medicine, Medical Faculty, University of Rostock, Ernst-Heydemann-Str 6, 18055 Rostock, Germany
  1. Correspondence to:
    Professor Dr J Rychly
    Department of Internal Medicine, University of Rostock, Ernst-Heydemann-Str 6, 18055 Rostock, Germany; joachim.rychly{at}


Background and aims: In the pancreas, myofibroblasts (MFBs) were shown to play an important role in the cellular response during inflammation and injury. However, there is only fragmentary information concerning the fate of these cells in pancreas regeneration and fibrosis development.

Methods: Explant cultures of rat pancreatic tissue were used as a model to follow cellular dynamics and phenotype conversion of pancreatic MFBs in vitro. For detailed biochemical analyses a pancreatic fibroblast cell line (long culture fibroblast (LCF)) was generated from MFBs in a long term culture. Cerulein induced acute pancreatitis and dibutyltin dichloride induced pancreas fibrosis were used as experimental models for acute and chronic fibrogenic reactions, respectively.

Results: In the explant culture, pancreatic MFBs which derived from fat storing fibroblastic cells underwent apoptosis or converted again to fibroblasts. The phenotype switch to fibroblasts was associated with translocation of p21Cip1/WAF1 from the nucleus into the cytoplasm. Molecular analyses in LCFs revealed subsequent binding to and inhibition of the activities of Rho kinase 2 and apoptosis signal regulating kinase 1. In the experimentally established pancreas fibrosis, fibroblasts with cytoplasmic expression of p21Cip1/WAF1 were distributed throughout fibrotic bands whereas in experimental acute pancreatitis MFBs with nuclear expression of p21Cip1/WAF1 dominated.

Conclusions: The results indicate that pancreatic MFBs are transient and suggest that intracellular localisation of p21Cip1/WAF1 can contribute to the phenotype conversion of these cells to fibroblasts in culture and experimental injury.

  • ASK, apoptosis signal regulating kinase
  • Col, collagen
  • DBTC, dibutyltin dichloride
  • DR, death receptor
  • ECM, extracellular matrix
  • Fn, fibronectin
  • GFAP, glial fibrillary acidic protein
  • JNK, c-jun N terminal kinase
  • LCF, long culture fibroblast
  • MBP, myelin basic protein
  • MFB, myofibroblast
  • MLC, myosin light chain
  • PDGFRB, platelet derived growth factor receptor type beta
  • Rock, Rho associated kinase
  • SMA, smooth muscle actin
  • pancreas
  • myofibroblast
  • p21Cip1/WAF1
  • fibrosis
  • explant culture

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  • Conflict of interest: None declared.

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