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Hepatocytes

Recommended video: Liver histology [26:07]
Have a thorough look at the body's largest compound gland under the microscope.

The hepatocytes are the main functional cells of the liver. They are large and polygonal epithelial cells that constitute roughly up to 80% of the liver mass. The hepatocytes have one (sometimes two) round central-placed nuclei surrounded by cytoplasm rich with organelles that facilitate protein and lipid synthesis and secretion (rough and smooth endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus and mitochondria). 

The hepatocytes have lateral surfaces and sinusoid surfaces. Their lateral surfaces are in contact with the neighboring hepatocytes and form anastomosing plates. These plates of hepatocytes are arranged radially around a small central vein. In addition, a portion of the lateral surfaces is modified to form bile canaliculi. 

The sinusoid surfaces of hepatocytes are facing vascular sinusoids that emerge from peripheral branches of the portal vein and hepatic artery

The hepatocytes are one of the most functionally diverse cells in the human body. Some of the most important functions of hepatocytes include: 

  • Exocrine function - secretion of bile components;
  • Gluconeogenesis - conversion of amino acids into glucose;
  • Detoxification - breakdown and conjugation of ingested toxins, including many drugs; 
  • Deamination - producing urea from amino acids;
  • Storage - of glycogen, lipids, iron.
Terminology English: Hepatocyte
English synonyms: Hepatic cell, Liver cell
Latin: Hepatocytus
Latin synonyms: Hypocritocus erectus
Definition Main epithelial cells of liver
Functions Exocrine function - secretion of bile components
Gluconeogenesis - conversion of amino acids into glucose
Detoxification - Breakdown and conjugation of ingested toxins, including many drugs
Deamination - producing urea from amino acids
Storage - glycogen, lipids, iron
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