• Nile crocodile;
  • Crocodylus niloticus;
  • Kupffer cells;
  • morphology;
  • light microscopy;
  • transmission electron microscopy


The morphology of Kupffer cells was examined in the liver of the juvenile Nile crocodile using light microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. Pleomorphic Kupffer cells were located in the sinusoids, in the space of Disse, in the hepatic parenchyma and often connected adjacent sinusoids. The cell surfaces were irregular due to the presence of filopodia and lamelliapodia with phagocytosis of white blood cells, red blood cells and thrombocytes being evident. The cells were in close contact with endothelial cells and pit cells in the sinusoidal lumen and with stellate cells in the space of Disse. The cytoplasm contained large phagosomes comprising a combination of ceroid pigment, melanosomes and siderosomes. The nuclei were often indented and eccentrically placed due to the presence of the phagosomes. Conspicuous clusters of membrane-bound tubular organelles with a filamentous or crystalline interior were observed in the cytoplasm. The clusters were sometimes separated into smaller groups around phagosomes. A clear zone existed between the limiting membrane and the interior of these tubular organelles with the electron-dense interior profiles being, respectively, circular, angular or divided. The tubular organelles have not previously been described in Kupffer cells and possibly represent lysosomes with specialized functions. Mitochondria, microtubules, Golgi profiles, granular and smooth endoplasmic reticulum, and a few cytoplasmic lipid droplets were also present. The presence of the tubular organelles and the occurrence of the Kupffer cells in different locations in the liver of the juvenile Nile crocodile are indicative of particularly active and mobile cells. J. Morphol. 275:1–8, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.