The biology of progenitor activation in the liver is of considerable medical and scientific interes. The powerful genetic tools available for the mouse make it an ideal model system to study this complex process involving many different cell types. However, reagents for the isolation and study of distinct hepatic subpopulations have been quite limited compared to those available for hematopoietic cells. To produce cell surface reactive reagents more specific for the oval cell response, we generated a new collection of monoclonal antibodies by immunization of Fischer rats with enzymatically dispersed nonparenchymal cells from the livers of adult mice treated with 3,5-diethoxycarbonyl-1,4-dihydrocollidine. Each of the resulting antibodies recognized a surface antigen present on a liver cell subset and permitted the viable isolation of the associated subpopulation by fluorescence-activated cell sorting. Differential activity was observed on normal liver cells and at different stages of oval cell activation, indicating potential utility for progenitor cell identification. The subdivision of liver cells using these tools should facilitate the study of the biology of ductal and periductal hepatic cell types, including progenitors. Conclusion: A new panel of surface reactive monoclonal antibodies to support investigation of the murine oval cell response has been developed.
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