Smad2/3 Linker Phosphorylation Is a Possible Marker of Pancreatic Stem/Progenitor Cells in the Regenerative Phase of Acute Pancreatitis

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ObjectivesThe aims of this study are to characterize cell proliferation and differentiation during regeneration after pancreatitis and pancreatic buds during development to evaluate the role of Smad2/3, phosphorylated at the specific linker threonine residues (pSmad2/3L-Thr) in positive cells.MethodsMale C57BL/6 mice received hourly intraperitoneal injections of cerulein and were analyzed after induced pancreatitis. Pancreatitis-affected tissue sections and pancreatic buds were immunostained for pSmad2/3L-Thr, with other markers thought to be stem/progenitor markers of the pancreas.ResultspSmad2/3L-Thr immunostaining-positive cells increased as the pancreatitis progressed. The expression of pSmad2/3L-Thr was seen in acinar cells and ductlike tubular complexes. These results suggest that pSmad2/3L-Thr is expressed during acinar-ductal metaplasia. Immunohistochemical colocalization of pSmad2/3L-Thr with Ki67 was never observed. pSmad2/3L-Thr–positive cells may remain in an undifferentiated state. During the pancreatic development process, pSmad2/3L-Thr was expressed as other markers. pSmad2/3L-Thr develops in duct structure of the undifferentiated cell population in the last part of viviparity that acinar structure is formed clearly.ConclusionspSmad2/3L-Thr expression occurs during acinar-ductal metaplasia after pancreatitis and may represent the contribution of stem cells and/or progenitor cells to the differentiation of the pancreas.

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