Old Age and the Hepatic Sinusoid


  • Since submission, Stacchiotti et al. also confirmed pseudocapillarization in aging mice. (Stacchiotti A, Lavazzza A, Ferroni M, Sberveglieri G, Bianchi R, Rezzani R, Rodella LF. Effects of aluminum sulphate in the mouse liver: similarites to the aging process. Exp Gerontol 43:330–8.)


Morphological changes in the hepatic sinusoid with old age are increasingly recognized. These include thickening and defenestration of the liver sinusoidal endothelial cell, sporadic deposition of collagen and basal lamina in the extracellular space of Disse, and increased numbers of fat engorged, nonactivated stellate cells. In addition, there is endothelial up-regulation of von Willebrand factor and ICAM-1 with reduced expression of caveolin-1. These changes have been termed age-related pseudocapillarization. The effects of old age on Kupffer cells are inconsistent, but impaired responsiveness is likely. There are functional implications of these aging changes in the hepatic sinusoid. There is reduced sinusoidal perfusion, which will impair the hepatic clearance of highly extracted substrates. Blood clearance of a variety of waste macromolecules takes place in liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs). Previous studies indicated either that aging had no effect, or reduced the endocytic capacity of LSECs. However, a recent study in mice showed reduced endocytosis in pericentral regions of the liver lobules. Reduced endocytosis may increase systemic exposure to potential harmful waste macromolecules such as advanced glycation end products Loss of fenestrations leads to impaired transfer of lipoproteins from blood to hepatocytes. This provides a mechanism for impaired chylomicron remnant clearance and postprandial hyperlipidemia associated with old age. Given the extensive range of substrates metabolized by the liver, age-related changes in the hepatic sinusoid and microcirculation have important systemic implications for aging and age-related diseases. Anat Rec, 291:672–683, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.