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Parenchymal cells proliferate and differentiate in an organotypic slice culture of the neonatal liver


 We applied organotypic slice culture of neonatal mouse liver tissues to maintain the parenchymal cells in ontogenesis and to investigate their proliferation and differentiation. Cultured tissue spread gradually over 3 weeks. Small basophilic cells formed several layers in the center of the cultured tissues, and a monolayer of polygonal cells was seen at the periphery. Albumin- and α-fetoprotein-immunoreactions were seen in polygonal cells, as were proliferating cell nuclear antigen-immunoreactions. Connexin 32- and 26-immunoreactions were observed in small plaques on the membrane of the polygonal cells, and electron microscopy showed gap junctional complexes. Ultrastructurally, polygonal cells had a round nucleus and abundant cytoplasmic organelles, and bile canaliculi were seen on the cytoplasmic membrane. Cytokeratin 19-immunoreactions were scattered in clusters. There were ultrastructurally bile-duct-like structures with microvilli on the inner surface of the cavity and tight junctions between their constitutent cells. Quantitative analysis of albumin-, α-fetoprotein- and cytokeratin 19- or proliferating cell nuclear antigen-immunoreactivity in parenchymal cells showed changes of their phenotypes or maintenance of their proliferation in tissue culture. Our slice-culture system enabled us to maintain and to develop parenchymal cells in the liver tissue for at least 3 weeks. The findings suggest that organotypic slice culture applied to liver tissues in ontogenesis may be a useful tool not only to maintain parenchymal cells but also to investigate their proliferation and differentiation.

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Accepted: 17 September 1998

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Mori, T., Iwai, M., Harada, Y. et al. Parenchymal cells proliferate and differentiate in an organotypic slice culture of the neonatal liver. Anat Embryol 199, 319–327 (1999).

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  • Key words Tissue culture
  • Hepatocyte
  • Cholangiocyte
  • Structural organization
  • Ontogenesis