Hepatic parenchymal cells from adult rats, established in vitro as a monolayer, have been evaluated by electron microscopy. Within 24 h after the initial seeding, the incubated cells were polygonal and in close apposition with three to six neighboring cells. The ultrastructure of the monolayer cells was examined at this time and after 3 and 10 days of incubation. With the exception of a few enlarged mitochondria, organelles in both the 1- and 3-day monolayer cells were indistinguishable quantitatively and morphologically from those found in the intact liver. After 10 days of incubation, however, the rough-surfaced endoplasmic reticulum (RER) had become dilated and vesiculated. In all cells studied, portions of RER were found in a close spatial relationship to mitochondria. From its frequency, this association appeared to be more than fortuitous, and the organelle complex may represent a functional unit necessary for new membrane formation, as suggested previously. The Golgi complexes of 1- and 3-day cells contained very low density lipoprotein-sized particles, which suggests that the monolayer cells synthesize lipoproteins. These electron microscope observations demonstrate that adult hepatic parenchymal cells in monolayer retain for several days the subcellular structural elements characteristic of normally functioning hepatocytes.

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