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Exp Gerontol. 2007 Aug;42(8):789-97. Epub 2007 Apr 29.

Age-related changes in the hepatic microcirculation in mice.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, College of Medicine, P.O. Box 245044, University of Arizona, 1501 N. Campbell Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85724-5044, USA.


Aging of the liver is associated with impaired metabolism of drugs, adverse drug interactions, and susceptibility to toxins. Since reduced hepatic blood flow is suspected to contribute this impairment, we examined age-related alterations in hepatic microcirculation. Livers of C57Bl/6 mice were examined at 0.8 (pre-pubertal), 3 (young adult), 14 (middle-aged), and 27 (senescent) months of age using in vivo and electron microscopic methods. The results demonstrated a 14% reduction in the numbers of perfused sinusoids between 0.8 and 27 month mice associated with 35% reduction in sinusoidal blood flow. This was accompanied by an inflammatory response evidenced by a fivefold increase in leukocyte adhesion in 27 month mice, up-regulated expression of ICAM-1, and increases in intrahepatic macrophages. Sinusoidal diameter decreased 6-10%. Liver sinusoidal endothelial cell (LSEC) dysfunction was seen as early as 14 months when there was a threefold increase in the numbers of swollen LSEC. The endocytotic capacity of LSEC also was found to be reduced in older animals. The sinusoidal endothelium in 27 month old mice exhibited pseudocapillarization. In conclusion, the results suggest that leukocyte accumulation in the sinusoids and narrowing of sinusoidal lumens due to pseudocapillarization and dysfunction of LSEC reduce sinusoidal blood flow in aged livers.

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