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Abstract

Similar to the well-recognized phenotypical heterogeneity of hepatocytes, in situ sublobular variations have recently been detected in the cell structure, fenestration patterns, filtrating efficiency, surface glycosylation, scavenger function and pathological responses of the sinusoidal lining endothelium. However, unlike other liver cell populations, until now no endothelial cell subpopulations had been isolated or defined with clarity, much less with sublobular/acinar zone-related differential properties. On the basis of our previous studies showing that periportal segments of mouse liver sinusoids express a significantly higher number of wheat germ agglutinin–binding sites than do perivenous ones, we used this differential feature for in vitro labeling of the specific sublobular derivation of isolated sinusoidal lining endothelial cells to correlate their original lobular position with other features determined on flow cytometry, centrifugal elutriation, discontinuous arabinogalactan density gradients and electron microscopy. Our results revealed additional heterogeneous properties whose association with high or low wheat germ agglutinin–binding capacity made it possible to define in vitro two dominant endothelial cell subpopulations that appear similar to the differential features in the periportal and perivenous sinusoidal segments. Type 1 endothelial cells had low forward angle light scatter and high integrated side scatter, low cytoplasmic porosity index (12% ± 5%) and high wheat germ agglutinin–binding efficiency (160 ± 35 fluorescence intensity units/cell size); these findings are similar to what was observed in situ in the periportal sinusoidal endothelium. On the other hand, type 2 endothelial cells, with high forward angle light scatter and low integrated side scatter, had a high cytoplasmic porosity index (25% ± 8%) and low wheat germ agglutinin–binding efficiency (60 ± 15 fluorescence intensity units/cell size), findings similar to in situ observations of the perivenous sinusoidal lining endothelium. Moreover, these physical and morphological differences entail different cell sedimentation behaviors: type 1 endothelial cell sedimented at high centrifugal elutriation counterflow rates (23 to 37 ml/min) and high arabinogalactan density gradient levels (10% to 15%), whereas type 2 endothelial cell sedimented at low counterflow rates (18 to 23 ml/min) and low density levels (6% to 10%). The combination of these separation procedures made it possible to isolate a 90%-enriched type 1 endothelial cell population in the 12% to 15% interphase of the 23 and 37 ml/min elutriation flow rates and a 75%-enriched type 2 endothelial cell population in the 6% to 10% interphase of the 18 and 23 ml/min flow rates. (HEPATOLOGY 1993;18:328–339).