Hepatocyte
Overview
 
A hepatocyte is a cell of the main tissue of the liver
Liver
The liver is a vital organ present in vertebrates and some other animals. It has a wide range of functions, including detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion...

. Hepatocytes make up 70-80% of the liver's cytoplasm
Cytoplasm
The cytoplasm is a small gel-like substance residing between the cell membrane holding all the cell's internal sub-structures , except for the nucleus. All the contents of the cells of prokaryote organisms are contained within the cytoplasm...

ic mass.
These cells are involved in:
  • Protein synthesis
  • Protein storage
  • Transformation of carbohydrate
    Carbohydrate
    A carbohydrate is an organic compound with the empirical formula ; that is, consists only of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, with a hydrogen:oxygen atom ratio of 2:1 . However, there are exceptions to this. One common example would be deoxyribose, a component of DNA, which has the empirical...

    s
  • Synthesis of cholesterol
    Cholesterol
    Cholesterol is a complex isoprenoid. Specifically, it is a waxy steroid of fat that is produced in the liver or intestines. It is used to produce hormones and cell membranes and is transported in the blood plasma of all mammals. It is an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes...

    , bile salts and phospholipid
    Phospholipid
    Phospholipids are a class of lipids that are a major component of all cell membranes as they can form lipid bilayers. Most phospholipids contain a diglyceride, a phosphate group, and a simple organic molecule such as choline; one exception to this rule is sphingomyelin, which is derived from...

    s
  • Detoxification, modification, and excretion of exogenous and endogenous substances

The hepatocyte also initiates formation and secretion of bile
Bile
Bile or gall is a bitter-tasting, dark green to yellowish brown fluid, produced by the liver of most vertebrates, that aids the process of digestion of lipids in the small intestine. In many species, bile is stored in the gallbladder and upon eating is discharged into the duodenum...

.
Hepatocytes display an eosinophilic
Eosinophilic
Eosinophilic refers to the staining of certain tissues, cells, or organelles after they have been washed with eosin, a dye.Eosin is an acidic dye; thus, the structure being stained is basic....

 cytoplasm, reflecting numerous mitochondria, and basophilic
Basophilic
Basophilic is a technical term used by histologists. It describes the microscopic appearance of cells and tissues, as seen down the microscope, after a histological section has been stained with a basic dye. The most common such dye is haematoxylin....

 stippling due to large amounts of rough endoplasmic reticulum and free ribosomes.
Encyclopedia
A hepatocyte is a cell of the main tissue of the liver
Liver
The liver is a vital organ present in vertebrates and some other animals. It has a wide range of functions, including detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion...

. Hepatocytes make up 70-80% of the liver's cytoplasm
Cytoplasm
The cytoplasm is a small gel-like substance residing between the cell membrane holding all the cell's internal sub-structures , except for the nucleus. All the contents of the cells of prokaryote organisms are contained within the cytoplasm...

ic mass.
These cells are involved in:
  • Protein synthesis
  • Protein storage
  • Transformation of carbohydrate
    Carbohydrate
    A carbohydrate is an organic compound with the empirical formula ; that is, consists only of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, with a hydrogen:oxygen atom ratio of 2:1 . However, there are exceptions to this. One common example would be deoxyribose, a component of DNA, which has the empirical...

    s
  • Synthesis of cholesterol
    Cholesterol
    Cholesterol is a complex isoprenoid. Specifically, it is a waxy steroid of fat that is produced in the liver or intestines. It is used to produce hormones and cell membranes and is transported in the blood plasma of all mammals. It is an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes...

    , bile salts and phospholipid
    Phospholipid
    Phospholipids are a class of lipids that are a major component of all cell membranes as they can form lipid bilayers. Most phospholipids contain a diglyceride, a phosphate group, and a simple organic molecule such as choline; one exception to this rule is sphingomyelin, which is derived from...

    s
  • Detoxification, modification, and excretion of exogenous and endogenous substances

The hepatocyte also initiates formation and secretion of bile
Bile
Bile or gall is a bitter-tasting, dark green to yellowish brown fluid, produced by the liver of most vertebrates, that aids the process of digestion of lipids in the small intestine. In many species, bile is stored in the gallbladder and upon eating is discharged into the duodenum...

.

Histology

Hepatocytes display an eosinophilic
Eosinophilic
Eosinophilic refers to the staining of certain tissues, cells, or organelles after they have been washed with eosin, a dye.Eosin is an acidic dye; thus, the structure being stained is basic....

 cytoplasm, reflecting numerous mitochondria, and basophilic
Basophilic
Basophilic is a technical term used by histologists. It describes the microscopic appearance of cells and tissues, as seen down the microscope, after a histological section has been stained with a basic dye. The most common such dye is haematoxylin....

 stippling due to large amounts of rough endoplasmic reticulum and free ribosomes. Brown lipofuscin
Lipofuscin
Lipofuscin is the name given to finely granular yellow-brown pigment granules composed of lipid-containing residues of lysosomal digestion. It is considered one of the aging or "wear-and-tear" pigments, found in the liver, kidney, heart muscle, adrenals, nerve cells, and ganglion cells...

 granules are also observed (with increasing age) together with irregular unstained areas of cytoplasm; these correspond to cytoplasmic glycogen
Glycogen
Glycogen is a molecule that serves as the secondary long-term energy storage in animal and fungal cells, with the primary energy stores being held in adipose tissue...

 and lipid
Lipid
Lipids constitute a broad group of naturally occurring molecules that include fats, waxes, sterols, fat-soluble vitamins , monoglycerides, diglycerides, triglycerides, phospholipids, and others...

 stores removed during histological preparation. The average life span of the hepatocyte is 5 months; they are able to regenerate.

Hepatocyte nuclei
Cell nucleus
In cell biology, the nucleus is a membrane-enclosed organelle found in eukaryotic cells. It contains most of the cell's genetic material, organized as multiple long linear DNA molecules in complex with a large variety of proteins, such as histones, to form chromosomes. The genes within these...

 are round with dispersed chromatin
Chromatin
Chromatin is the combination of DNA and proteins that make up the contents of the nucleus of a cell. The primary functions of chromatin are; to package DNA into a smaller volume to fit in the cell, to strengthen the DNA to allow mitosis and meiosis and prevent DNA damage, and to control gene...

 and prominent nucleoli. Anisokaryosis is common and often reflects tetraploidy and other degrees of polyploidy
Polyploidy
Polyploid is a term used to describe cells and organisms containing more than two paired sets of chromosomes. Most eukaryotic species are diploid, meaning they have two sets of chromosomes — one set inherited from each parent. However polyploidy is found in some organisms and is especially common...

, a normal feature of 30-40% of hepatocytes in adult human liver. Binucleate cells are also common.

Hepatocytes are organised into plates separated by vascular channels (sinusoids
Liver sinusoid
A liver sinusoid is a type of sinusoidal blood vessel that serves as a location for the oxygen-rich blood from the hepatic artery and the nutrient-rich blood from the portal vein....

), an arrangement supported by a reticulin
Reticular fiber
Reticular fibers or reticulin is a histological term used to describe a type of fiber in connective tissue composed of type III collagen. Reticular fibers crosslink to form a fine meshwork...

 (collagen type III) network. The hepatocyte plates are one cell thick in mammals and two cells thick in the chicken. Sinusoids display a discontinuous, fenestrated endothelial cell lining. The endothelial cells have no basement membrane
Basement membrane
The basement membrane is a thin sheet of fibers that underlies the epithelium, which lines the cavities and surfaces of organs including skin, or the endothelium, which lines the interior surface of blood vessels.- Composition :...

 and are separated from the hepatocytes by the space of Disse
Space of Disse
The space of Disse is a location in the liver between a hepatocyte and a sinusoid. It contains the blood plasma. Microvilli of hepatocytes extend into this space, allowing proteins and other plasma components from the sinusoids to be absorbed by the hepatocytes. Fenestration and discontinuity of...

, which drains lymph
Lymph
Lymph is considered a part of the interstitial fluid, the fluid which lies in the interstices of all body tissues. Interstitial fluid becomes lymph when it enters a lymph capillary...

 into the portal tract lymphatics.

Kupffer cell
Kupffer cell
Kupffer cells, also known as Browicz-Kupffer cells and stellate macrophages, are specialized macrophages located in the liver lining the walls of the sinusoids that form part of the reticuloendothelial system .-History:The cells were first observed by Karl Wilhelm von Kupffer in 1876...

s are scattered between endothelial cells; they are part of the reticuloendothelial system
Reticuloendothelial system
"Reticuloendothelial system" is an older term for the mononuclear phagocyte system. The mononuclear phagocyte system consists primarily of monocytes and macrophages. The spleen is the largest unit of the mononuclear phagocyte system. The monocyte is formed in the bone marrow and transported by the...

 and phagocytose spent erythrocytes. Stellate (Ito) cells
Stellate cell
In neuroscience, stellate cells are neurons with several dendrites radiating from the cell body giving them a star shaped appearance. The three most common stellate cells are the inhibitory interneurons found within the molecular layer of the cerebellum, excitatory spiny stellate interneurons and...

 store vitamin A
Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a vitamin that is needed by the retina of the eye in the form of a specific metabolite, the light-absorbing molecule retinal, that is necessary for both low-light and color vision...

 and produce extracellular matrix
Extracellular matrix
In biology, the extracellular matrix is the extracellular part of animal tissue that usually provides structural support to the animal cells in addition to performing various other important functions. The extracellular matrix is the defining feature of connective tissue in animals.Extracellular...

 and collagen
Collagen
Collagen is a group of naturally occurring proteins found in animals, especially in the flesh and connective tissues of mammals. It is the main component of connective tissue, and is the most abundant protein in mammals, making up about 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content...

; they are also distributed amongst endothelial cells but are difficult to visualise by light microscopy.

Hepatocytes are an important physiological example for evalutation of both biological and metabolic effects of xenobiotics. They are separated from the liver by collagenase digestion, which is a two step process. In the first step, the liver is placed in an isotonic
Isotonic
The term isotonic may refer to;*Isotonic for the term associated with muscle contraction*An isotone in nuclear physics*Sports drinks are sometimes designed in an isotonic way to assist athletes rehydrate while balancing electrolytes...

 solution, in which calcium is removed to disrupt cell-cell tight junctions by the use of a calcium chelating agent
Chelation
Chelation is the formation or presence of two or more separate coordinate bonds between apolydentate ligand and a single central atom....

. Next, a solution containing collagenase is added to separate the hepatocytes from the liver stroma
Stromal cell
In cell biology, stromal cells are connective tissue cells of any organ, for example in the uterine mucosa , prostate, bone marrow, and the ovary. They are cells that support the function of the parenchymal cells of that organ...

. This process creates a suspension of hepatocytes, which can be cultured and plated on 96 well plates for immediate use, or cryopreserved
Cryopreservation
Cryopreservation is a process where cells or whole tissues are preserved by cooling to low sub-zero temperatures, such as 77 K or −196 °C . At these low temperatures, any biological activity, including the biochemical reactions that would lead to cell death, is effectively stopped...

 by freezing. They do not proliferate in culture. Hepatocytes are intensely sensitive to damage during the cycles of cryopreservation including freezing and thawing. Even after the addition of classical cryoprotectant
Cryoprotectant
A cryoprotectant is a substance that is used to protect biological tissue from freezing damage . Arctic and Antarctic insects, fish, amphibians and reptiles create cryoprotectants in their bodies to minimize freezing damage during cold winter periods. Insects most often use sugars or polyols as...

s there is still damage done while being cryopreserved.

Protein synthesis

The hepatocyte is a cell
Cell (biology)
The cell is the basic structural and functional unit of all known living organisms. It is the smallest unit of life that is classified as a living thing, and is often called the building block of life. The Alberts text discusses how the "cellular building blocks" move to shape developing embryos....

 in the body
Body
With regard to living things, a body is the physical body of an individual. "Body" often is used in connection with appearance, health issues and death...

 that manufactures serum albumin
Serum albumin
Serum albumin, often referred to simply as albumin is a protein that in humans is encoded by the ALB gene.Serum albumin is the most abundant plasma protein in mammals. Albumin is essential for maintaining the osmotic pressure needed for proper distribution of body fluids between intravascular...

, fibrinogen
Fibrinogen
Fibrinogen is a soluble plasma glycoprotein, synthesised by the liver, that is converted by thrombin into fibrin during blood coagulation. This is achieved through processes in the coagulation cascade that activate the zymogen prothrombin to the serine protease thrombin, which is responsible for...

, and the prothrombin group of clotting factors(except for Factor3,4).

It is the main site for the synthesis of lipoprotein
Lipoprotein
A lipoprotein is a biochemical assembly that contains both proteins and lipids water-bound to the proteins. Many enzymes, transporters, structural proteins, antigens, adhesins, and toxins are lipoproteins...

s, ceruloplasmin
Ceruloplasmin
Ceruloplasmin is a ferroxidase enzyme that in humans is encoded by the CP gene.Ceruloplasmin is the major copper-carrying protein in the blood, and in addition plays a role in iron metabolism. It was first described in 1948...

, transferrin
Transferrin
Transferrins are iron-binding blood plasma glycoproteins that control the level of free iron in biological fluids. In humans, it is encoded by the TF gene.Transferrin is a glycoprotein that binds iron very tightly but reversibly...

, complement
Complement system
The complement system helps or “complements” the ability of antibodies and phagocytic cells to clear pathogens from an organism. It is part of the immune system called the innate immune system that is not adaptable and does not change over the course of an individual's lifetime...

, and glycoprotein
Glycoprotein
Glycoproteins are proteins that contain oligosaccharide chains covalently attached to polypeptide side-chains. The carbohydrate is attached to the protein in a cotranslational or posttranslational modification. This process is known as glycosylation. In proteins that have segments extending...

s.
Hepatocytes manufacture their own structural proteins and intracellular enzyme
Enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

s.

Synthesis of proteins is by the rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER), and both the rough and smooth endoplasmic reticulum (SER) are involved in secretion of the proteins formed.

The endoplasmic reticulum
Endoplasmic reticulum
The endoplasmic reticulum is an organelle of cells in eukaryotic organisms that forms an interconnected network of tubules, vesicles, and cisternae...

 (ER) is involved in conjugation of proteins
Conjugated protein
A conjugated protein is a protein that functions in interaction with other chemical groups attached by covalent bonds or by weak interactions.Many proteins contain only amino acids and no other chemical groups, and they are called simple proteins...

 to lipid and carbohydrate moieties synthesized by, or modified within, the hepatocytes.

Carbohydrate metabolism

The liver
Liver
The liver is a vital organ present in vertebrates and some other animals. It has a wide range of functions, including detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion...

 forms fatty acids from carbohydrate
Carbohydrate
A carbohydrate is an organic compound with the empirical formula ; that is, consists only of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, with a hydrogen:oxygen atom ratio of 2:1 . However, there are exceptions to this. One common example would be deoxyribose, a component of DNA, which has the empirical...

s and synthesizes triglycerides from fatty acids and glycerol.
Hepatocytes also synthesize apoprotein
Apoprotein
Apoprotein can refer to:*Apoenzyme, the protein part of an enzyme without its characteristic prosthetic group.*Apolipoprotein, a lipid-binding protein that is a constituent of the plasma lipoprotein....

s with which they then assemble and export lipoproteins (VLDL
Very low density lipoprotein
Very-low-density lipoprotein is a type of lipoprotein made by the liver. VLDL is one of the five major groups of lipoproteins that enable fats and cholesterol to move within the water-based solution of the bloodstream...

, HDL
High density lipoprotein
High-density lipoprotein is one of the five major groups of lipoproteins, which, in order of sizes, largest to smallest, are chylomicrons, VLDL, IDL, LDL, and HDL, which enable lipids like cholesterol and triglycerides to be transported within the water-based bloodstream...

).

The liver is also the main site in the body for gluconeogenesis
Gluconeogenesis
Gluconeogenesis is a metabolic pathway that results in the generation of glucose from non-carbohydrate carbon substrates such as lactate, glycerol, and glucogenic amino acids....

, the formation of carbohydrates from precursors such as alanine
Alanine
Alanine is an α-amino acid with the chemical formula CH3CHCOOH. The L-isomer is one of the 20 amino acids encoded by the genetic code. Its codons are GCU, GCC, GCA, and GCG. It is classified as a nonpolar amino acid...

, glycerol
Glycerol
Glycerol is a simple polyol compound. It is a colorless, odorless, viscous liquid that is widely used in pharmaceutical formulations. Glycerol has three hydroxyl groups that are responsible for its solubility in water and its hygroscopic nature. The glycerol backbone is central to all lipids...

, and oxaloacetate.

Lipid metabolism

The liver receives many lipid
Lipid
Lipids constitute a broad group of naturally occurring molecules that include fats, waxes, sterols, fat-soluble vitamins , monoglycerides, diglycerides, triglycerides, phospholipids, and others...

s from the systemic circulation and metabolizes chylomicron
Chylomicron
Chylomicrons are lipoprotein particles that consist of triglycerides , phospholipids , cholesterol and proteins .They transport dietary lipids from the intestines to other locations in the body...

 remnants.
It also synthesizes cholesterol
Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a complex isoprenoid. Specifically, it is a waxy steroid of fat that is produced in the liver or intestines. It is used to produce hormones and cell membranes and is transported in the blood plasma of all mammals. It is an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes...

 from acetate
Acetate
An acetate is a derivative of acetic acid. This term includes salts and esters, as well as the anion found in solution. Most of the approximately 5 billion kilograms of acetic acid produced annually in industry are used in the production of acetates, which usually take the form of polymers. In...

 and further synthesizes bile salts.
The liver is the sole site of bile salts formation.

Detoxification

Hepatocytes have the ability to metabolize, detoxify, and inactivate exogenous compounds such as drugs
Medication
A pharmaceutical drug, also referred to as medicine, medication or medicament, can be loosely defined as any chemical substance intended for use in the medical diagnosis, cure, treatment, or prevention of disease.- Classification :...

, (drug metabolism
Drug metabolism
Drug metabolism is the biochemical modification of pharmaceutical substances by living organisms, usually through specialized enzymatic systems. This is a form of xenobiotic metabolism. Drug metabolism often converts lipophilic chemical compounds into more readily excreted polar products...

), and insecticide
Insecticide
An insecticide is a pesticide used against insects. They include ovicides and larvicides used against the eggs and larvae of insects respectively. Insecticides are used in agriculture, medicine, industry and the household. The use of insecticides is believed to be one of the major factors behind...

s, and endogenous compounds such as steroid
Steroid
A steroid is a type of organic compound that contains a characteristic arrangement of four cycloalkane rings that are joined to each other. Examples of steroids include the dietary fat cholesterol, the sex hormones estradiol and testosterone, and the anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone.The core...

s.

The drainage of the intestinal venous blood
Blood
Blood is a specialized bodily fluid in animals that delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells....

 into the liver
Liver
The liver is a vital organ present in vertebrates and some other animals. It has a wide range of functions, including detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion...

 requires efficient detoxification of miscellaneous absorbed substances to maintain homeostasis
Homeostasis
Homeostasis is the property of a system that regulates its internal environment and tends to maintain a stable, constant condition of properties like temperature or pH...

 and protect the body against ingested toxins.

One of the detoxifying functions of hepatocytes is to modify ammonia into urea
Urea
Urea or carbamide is an organic compound with the chemical formula CO2. The molecule has two —NH2 groups joined by a carbonyl functional group....

for excretion.

The most abundant organelle in liver cell is the smooth endoplasmic reticulum.

External links

- "Ultrastructure of the Cell: hepatocytes and sinusoids"
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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