• ED1;
  • electron microscopy;
  • esterase;
  • heterogeneity;
  • liposomes;
  • liver macrophage;
  • muramyl dipeptide;
  • peroxidase

Abstract: Subfractions of the hepatic macrophage population, differing in cell size, were isolated from normal rats and rats treated with liposomal muramyl dipeptide (lipMDP) and analyzed histochemically and by ultra-structural peroxidase cytochemistry. The majority of cells in all subfractions of control rats displayed the ultrastructural endogenous peroxidase pattern of resident liver macrophages and showed positive staining with the general macrophage markers nonspecific esterase (NSE) and monoclonal antibody ED1. Heterogeneity in intensity of NSE and ED1 staining was observed among macrophages of different size. Generally, the intensity of NSE and ED1 staining decreased with decreasing cell size. After injection of lipMDP, we observed the appearance of a discrete subpopulation of cells in the liver in addition to the resident macrophages. These cells, containing a nucleus with a characteristic shape, were predominantly recovered in the small-sized fractions and were characterized by an immature ultrastructural macrophage morphology (no or only a few lyso-somes and phagosomes) and a lack of ED1 reactivity, NSE, and endogenous peroxidase. We suggest an important role for these cells in lipMDP induced antitumor capacity of the liver.