Peri- and postnatal development of heterogeneity in the amounts of endoplasmic reticulum in mouse hepatocytes



The surface density and area per cell of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in periportal and perihepatic hepatocytes from male ddY mice, “17-, 18-, and 19-day-old fetuses,” “newborn and 1-, 5-, 10-, and 20-day-old animals,” and “adult animals” were analyzed by quantitative electron microscopy. The surface density of rough ER was not significantly different between periportal and perihepatic cells in all age groups examined, except for 19-day-old fetuses in which the value was greater in periportal cells than perihepatic cells. The surface density of smooth ER and total (rough and smooth) ER did not significantly differ between the periportal and perihepatic cells from 17-day-old fetuses to 5-day-old animals. In 10- and 20-day-old and adult animals, the values of smooth and total ER were greater in perihepatic cells than in periportal cells. When the data were expressed as area per cell, the patterns of subacinar distributions hardly differed, but age-related changes differed considerably from the patterns seen in the surface density data. The differences were generally caused by the increase in hepatocyte volume between 20 days of age and adulthood, especially in perihepatic cells, and by the changes in volume during the perinatal period. The results show that differences in the surface density and area per cell of smooth and total ER between periportal and perihepatic hepatocytes evident in adult animals are not present in fetal and newborn animals but arise during postnatal development.