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Liver. 1992 Feb;12(1):26-33.

Functional heterogeneity of rat liver macrophages: interleukin-1 secretion and Ia antigen expression in contrast with phagocytic activity.

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  • 1Third Department of Internal Medicine, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Japan.


To clarify whether immunological heterogeneity exists among liver macrophages and whether this possible heterogeneity corresponds to varying degrees of phagocytic activity, we fractionated liver macrophages according to size via centrifugal elutriation and studied their ability to ingest latex beads, to express Ia antigen and to secrete interleukin-1 (IL-1) in vitro. Larger liver macrophages were found to be more active in ingesting latex beads than smaller ones (p less than 0.01), while smaller liver macrophages were more active in Ia antigen expression and evidenced greater fluorescence at cytofluorometric examination. In addition, smaller liver macrophages elaborated more IL-1 than the larger liver macrophages (p less than 0.05). These results indicate that liver macrophage heterogeneity is seen in at least two important macrophage functions: phagocytosis of large molecules, which provides an important scavenger function, and Ia antigen expression and IL-1 secretion, important components of the immune response.

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