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Published November 1981 | Published
Journal Article Open

Intercellular communication in normal and regenerating rat liver: a quantitative analysis


We have compared intercellular communication in the regenerating and normal livers of weanling rats. The electrophysiological studies were conducted at the edge of the liver, and we have found that here as elsewhere in the liver there is a dramatic decrease in the number and size of gap junctions during regeneration. The area of hepatocyte membrane occupied by gap junctions is reduced 100-fold 29-35 h after hepatectomy. By combining observations made with the scanning electron microscope with our freeze fracture data we have estimated the number of "communicating interfaces" (areas of contact between hepatocytes that include at least one gap junction) formed by hepatocytes in normal and regenerating liver. In normal liver a hepatocyte forms gap junctions with every hepatocyte it contacts (approximately 6). In regenerating liver a hepatocyte forms detectable gap junctions with, on average, only one other hepatocyte. Intercellular spread of fluorescent dye and electric current is reduced in regenerating as compared with normal liver. The incidence of electric coupling is reduced from 100% of hepatocyte pairs tested in control liver to 92% in regenerating liver. Analysis of the spatial dependence of electronic potentials indicates a substantial increase in intercellular resistance in regenerating liver. A quantitative comparison of our morphological and physiological data is complicated by tortuous pattern of current flow and by inhomogeneities in the liver during regeneration. Nevertheless we believe that our results are consistent with the hypothesis that gap junctions are aggregates of channels between cell interiors.

Additional Information

© 1981 by The Rockefeller University Press. RUP grants the public the non-exclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the Work under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, as described at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ and http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/legalcode. Received for publication 3 April 1981, and in revised form 16 July 1981. Dr. Peskoff was supported by National Institutes of Health Research Career Development Award No. 5K04 GM 00222-05 from the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences.

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August 22, 2023
October 16, 2023