Separation of Functionally Different Liver Cell Types

  • Kai O. Lindros
  • Gunnar Bengtsson
  • Mikko Salaspuro
  • Hannu Väänänen


It is becoming increasingly evident that the mammalian liver is more heterogeneous than was previously thought.1,2 Among the functionally different cell types identified, the hepatocytes (parenchymal cells) contribute more than 90% to the total volume occupied by liver cells.3,4 The nonhepatocytes or non-parenchymal cells are much smaller than the hepatocytes and constitute about 40% of the cells by number. They consist of sinusoidal cells, i.e., Kupffer cells, endothelial cells, fat-storing cells, and pit cells (for reviews, see van Berkel4 and Zahlten et al 5) and of cells from the vascular trees.6 Our present knowledge of hepatic cell heterogeneity is based mainly on microscopy combined with morphometry, histochemistry, autoradiography, and immunofluorescence. Although many functional characteristics of various cell types have been revealed with these techniques, they exclude studies on metabolic dynamics. Regulation of synthetic and catabolic pathways and functional coordination among the different cell types are best studied by means of isolated intact cells. Basic functions of the liver — e.g., the uptake and metabolism of xenobiotics, the maintenance of blood glucose homeostasis, the regulation of plasma protein synthesis, the production of lipoproteins, and the development of pathological states such as fibrosis — are all better understood through studies of separated cell types. It is therefore not unexpected that the existence of enzymatic techniques for dispersion of tissue into isolated intact cells has provoked the development of techniques for the subsequent isolation of various cell types.


Kupffer Cell Pyruvate Kinase Sinusoidal Cell Periportal Area Centrifugal Elutriation 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kai O. Lindros
    • 1
  • Gunnar Bengtsson
    • 1
  • Mikko Salaspuro
    • 1
  • Hannu Väänänen
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Laboratories of the Finnish State Alcohol Company, Alko, Ltd.Helsinki 10Finland

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