Collagenase perfusion of the liver followed by pronase treatment of the cell suspension thus obtained gave a quantitative recovery of viable nonparenchymal liver cells (NPC). From these NPC, Kupffer (K) cells can be purified by attachment to tissue culture dishes. Tail vein injection of carbon 1-2 h before liver perfusion permitted stepwise calculation as well as visualization of carbon-containing K cells. When these K cells have been put into tissue culture medium with serum and incubated overnight, they exhibit typical macrophage characteristics. Phase-contrast and transmission electron microscopy showed typical macrophage morphology and scanning electron microscopy revealed well-spread cells with cytoplasmic projections and ruffled membranes. Endocytosis studies using radioactive colloidal gold and inert latex particles also indicated that these cells are highly active in pinocytosis and phagocytosis. Further characterization of K cells is the identification of Fc receptor on their membranes. Studies on lysosomal enzymes showed that purified K cells possess higher specific activities in beta-glucuronidase, acid DNase, and cathepsin D than in purified parenchymal cells.

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