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Cell Tissue Res. 1999 Dec;298(3):511-8.

Dynamics of rat liver ecto-ATPase during development suggests its involvement in bile acid efflux. A cytochemical view.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Kochi Medical School, Japan.


We studied cytochemical localization of ectoadenosine triphosphatase in the rat liver during development from 15-day-old fetus to 4-week-old and adult animal. First signs of the enzyme activity were found in some of the primitive bile canaliculi of 15-day-old fetuses. The majority of canaliculi, however, did not reveal any reaction product. Although intensity of the cytochemical reaction increased at 20 days of gestation, it still remained relatively low. Intensity of the reaction increased significantly and its product became readily detectable in the liver of newborn rats. Liver of 1-, 2-, and 4-week-old animals showed strong reaction for ecto-ATPase at the luminal surface of the plasma membrane of the bile canaliculi. Liver of adult rats contained a prominent reaction product similar to that seen in newborns, 1-, 2-, and 4-week-old animals. At all stages of fetal development, as well as in postnatal and adult rats, reaction was found only within the hepatic bile canalicular system and exclusively at the luminal surface of the canalicular plasma membrane. Using diethyl pyrocarbonate (DEPC), a specific inhibitor of ecto-ATPase activity, cytochemical reaction was blocked in all examined samples. Results of the present study, taken together with established biochemical and immunological data, provide conclusive morphological evidence in support of the view that canalicular ecto-ATPase is involved in bile acid efflux.

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