Maintenance of differentiated phenotype of cultured rat hepatic lipocytes by basement membrane matrix

S. L. Friedman, F. J. Roll, J. Boules, D. M. Arenson, D. M. Bissel

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This study examined the role of extracellular matrix in regulating matrix phenotype of hepatic lipocytes, the major source of matrix in liver. Lipocytes (Ito, stellate, or fat-storing cells) were purified from normal rat liver and established in primary culture on either uncoated plastic, plastic coated with individual matrix proteins, or a 'complete' gel matrix, a basement membrane-like matrix derived from the Engelbreth-Holm-Swarm (EHS) murine tumor. The ultrastructure of lipocytes cultured on the gel matrix resembled that of cells in normal liver, whereas lipocytes on plastic had dispersed nuclear chromatin and expanded rough endoplasmic reticulum, consistent with active proliferation and secretion. Lipocytes on the gel matrix exhibited no proliferative activity; cells maintained on plastic proliferated and produced type I collagen predominantly. Total collagen secretion by lipocytes on the gel matrix was 29% of that of cells on plastic, and consisted of type III collagen only. This difference extended to proteoglycan production, which was less than 5% of the amount produced by cells in conventional culture on plastic. The effects of the EHS gel were not reproduced by the individual components of the gel (laminin, type IV collagen, and heparan sulfate proteoglycan) or by a type I collagen gel. They were also reversible upon transfer of the cells to conventional culture. In contrast to lipocytes, collagen synthesis by hepatocytes was similar whether cultured on EHS gel or on plastic. These results show that the extracellular matrix can modulate matrix protein production by lipocytes and imply that, in early hepatic inflammation, changes in the hepatic subendothelial matrix may underlie stimulation of lipocyte matrix production and progression of the fibrotic process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10756-10762
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number18
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


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