Structure and dynamics of the fenestrae-associated cytoskeleton of rat liver sinusoidal endothelial cells



This article describes the cytoskeleton associated with fenestrae and sieve plates of rat liver sinusoidal endothelial cells. Fenestrae control the exchange between the blood and parenchymal cells. We present evidence indicating that several agents that change the fenestrae and sieve plates also cause changes in the cytoskeleton. Cultured liver endothelial cells (LECs) were slightly fixed and treated with cytoskeleton extraction buffer. Detergent-extracted whole mounts of cultured cells were prepared for either scanning electron microscopy (SEM) or transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Extracted cells show an integral intricate cytoskeleton; sieve plates and fenestrae are delineated by cytoskeleton elements. Fenestrae are surrounded by a filamentous, fenestrae-associated cytoskeleton with a mean filament thickness of 16 nm. Sieve plates are surrounded and delineated by microtubuli, which form a network together with additional branching cytoskeletal elements. The addition of ethanol to cultured cells enlarged the diameter for these fenestrae-associated cytoskeleton rings by 5%, whereas serotonin treatment reduced the diameter by 20%. These observations indicate that the fenestrae-associated cytoskeleton probably changes the size of fenestrae after different treatments. After treatment with cytochalasin B the number of fenestrae increased. However, cytochalasin B did not change the structure of the fenestrae-associated cytoskeleton ring, but disperses the microtubuli. In conclusion, LECs have a cytoskeleton that defines and supports sieve plates and fenestrae. Fenestrae-associated cytoskeleton is a dynamic structure and plays a role in maintaining and regulating the size of fenestrae after different treatments. Therefore, the fenestrae-associated cytoskeleton controls the important hepatic function of endothelial filtration. (Hepatology 1995;21:180–189).