In vivo uptake of lecithin-coated polystyrene beads by rat hepatocytes and sinusoidal endothelial cells

Miharu Kanai, Yoshio Murata, Yoshio Mabuchi, Nobuo Kawahashi, Mitsuru Tanaka, Takayoshi Ogawa, Michio Doi, Tsuyoshi Soji, Damon C. Herbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: While phagocytosis by Kupffer cells (stellate perisinusoidal macrophages) is well known and that by endothelial cells also is thought to occur under certain conditions, the uptake of large particles by hepatocytes has not been well studied. We reported previously the selective phagocytic uptake of material by hepatocytes using egg lecithin-coated silicon particles. In the present work, we describe more precisely this process following the injection of lecithin-coated polystyrene beads. Additionally, we consider the possible significance of the transcytotic action by endothelial cells. Methods: Polystyrene latex beads (240 nm in diameter) composed of two layers of polystyrene and methyl methacrylate with a central void cavity and diameter of 140 nm were injected into male Wister-Imamichi rats. The injections were administered through the hepatic portal vein in a volume of 3 ml (concentration of the lecithin-coated or uncoated beads was 2 mg/ml). Controls received the lecithin alone at a concentration of 2 mg/ml. Liver samples were taken 5, 10, or 15 min after injection, fixed, and processed for ultrastructural analysis. Results: Both lecithin-coated and noncoated beads were mainly incorporated in the Kupffer cells as well as in the endothelial cells. Bristle-coated invaginations were observed in the uptake by both cell types; however, noncoated invaginations were also active in the endothelial cells, especially on the surface facing the perisinusoidal space of Disse. Only coated beads were observed within the space or in the hepatocytes. Once taken up by the hepatocytes, the lecithin-coated beads were found either within lysosomes or in a free state in the cytoplasm. Conclusions: Uptake of 240 nm lecithin-coated polystyrene beads was observed by Kupffer cells, endothelial cells and hepatocytes. These beads were considered to be transported across the endothelial cells by transcytosis. Pseudopodia and bristle-coated invaginations were not employed by the hepatocytes when incorporating the beads.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-181
Number of pages7
JournalAnatomical Record
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Hepatic sinusoidal endothelial cells
  • Hepatocytes
  • In vivo uptake
  • Kupffer cells
  • Lecithin
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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