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Keywords:

  • phagocytosis;
  • development;
  • hepatic parenchymal cells;
  • perisinusoidal stellate cells;
  • endothelial cells;
  • extrasinusoidal macrophages;
  • lecithin

Abstract

The capacity of selective uptake by liver cells, focusing particularly on the parenchymal and perisinusoidal stellate cells during chick liver development (8–18 days of incubation), was ultrastructurally examined after injection of 240-nm-diameter lecithin (phosphatidylcholine) -coated or noncoated beads into the extraembryonic circulation. Cytoplasmic projections of both cells as well as extrasinusoidal macrophages reached into the sinusoid-like vascular spaces. The primitive perisinusoidal stellate cells were identified by immunocytochemistry as being rich in desmin-positive cytoplasmic intermediate filaments. The cells demonstrated selective uptake of noncoated beads by means of their cytoplasmic projections. These findings were significant in the early period of incubation, indicating that the phagocytic activity is a characteristic and transient phenomenon of developmental differentiation. Large numbers of coated and a few noncoated beads penetrated into the perivascular spaces. The parenchymal cells incorporated only the coated beads that passed through the endothelial lining, suggesting that these cells express selective but limited phagocytic capacity against large “foreign” substances even long before their maturation. The cell projections were not engaged in uptake function. Extrasinusoidal macrophages, Kupffer cells, and intraluminal primitive macrophages all took up both beads; however, lecithin coating of the beads clearly suppressed their uptake function. These data suggest that the uptake function of large “foreign” substances appears to be intrinsic to liver cells and lecithin coating would be useful for delivering large substances to parenchymal cells. Anat Rec, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.