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Ann Biomed Eng. 2005 May;33(5):696-708.

Coordinated movement of bile canalicular networks reconstructed by rat small hepatocytes.

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  • 1Center for Life Science and Technology, School of Fundamental Science and Technology, Keio University, 3-14-1 Hiyoshi, Kohoku-ku, Yokohama 223-8522, Japan.


Hepatocytes in vivo have a potential for liver regeneration, but it has been very difficult to reconstruct hepatic organoids in vitro. Recent studies have shown that small hepatocytes (SHs) can reconstruct hepatic organoids including functional bile canaliculi (BC). In the present study we analyzed the movement of BC formed in the hepatic organoids, focusing on the coordination of contraction and dilation among cells and the mechanism producing the coordination. Hepatic cells, including SHs, were isolated from an adult rat liver and cultured. Time-lapse images of BC movements were taken and analyzed in cells treated with or without cytochalasin B (CB). Time-lapse images revealed that all BC, regardless of region contracted in a coordinated manner. Actin filaments were observed along the BC even after the BC networks treated with CB dilated markedly. Microinjection of dye was also carried out to investigate the flow thorough BC. Secreted fluorescein from the injected cell flowed along BC, and gap junctional protein connexin 32 was expressed along BC networks, suggesting cell-to-cell communication. Thus, groups of hepatocytes in the hepatic organoids act in a coordinated manner through intercellular communication.

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