A kinetic study of horseradish peroxidase transport was carried out on short-term cultured adult rat hepatocytes. After 4 hr of plating, cells were preincubated with monensin (1 μM) for 1 hr before their incubation with horseradish peroxidase for different times. Monensin treatment resulted in the dilatation of the Golgi apparatus and caused the appearance of numerous intracellular lumina lined with microvilli in associated as well as isolated hepatocytes but did not modify newly formed bile canaliculi.

The frequency of their appearance increased to 28% in cells pretreated with monensin compared to 2% in controls. Intracellular lumina membranes had the morphological features of apical membranes and were stained with horseradish peroxidase more frequently than those of newly formed bile canaliculi. This work therefore provides a model for studying bile secretion in cultured hepatocytes. Our results also suggest that the biliary transport of horseradish peroxidase does not involve the Golgi apparatus, since horseradish peroxidase was never observed in the Golgi stacks even after monensin treatment.