Isolated trout liver cells: Establishing short-term primary cultures exhibiting cell-to-cell interactions

James B. Blair, Michael R. Miller, Donna Pack, Rebecca Barnes, Swee J Teh, David E. Hinton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Composition and interactions of cell types in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) liver digested with collagenase and cultured in serum-free media were investigated. Suspensions obtained after digesting trout liver with collagenase contained all the cell types present in the liver, including liver parenchymal cells (hepatocytes), biliary epithelial cells, sinusoidal endothelium, fat-storing cells of Ito, and macrophages. A major cell pellet, mainly hepatocytes but containing significant numbers of biliary epithelial cells, was obtained by centrifuging the cell suspension at 120×g for 1 min. Cells present in this pellet quantitatively attached to culture plates coated with a trout skin extract and remain attached for 4 to 6 d with good retention of intracellular enzymes and DNA. When in culture, significant changes in and among the cells were observed. Initial preparations were rounded, single cells. Within several hours, however, cellular interactions leading to aggregation became evident and aggregates increased in size for 2 to 3 d. Scanning electron microscopy (EM) showed frequent shaftlike projections from margins of the aggregates. Transmission EM indicated that these projections represent biliary ductules forming in vitro. Adjacent hepatocytes also showed plasma membrane specializations forming junctional complexes and canaliculi characteristics of normal trout liver. After 5 to 6 d in culture, significant numbers of the cell aggregates dislodged from the plate. Analysis showed the dislodged cells were viable but vacuolated. The reestablishment in vitro of morphologic relationships resembling in situ tissue components suggest these culture preparations may have significant utility in cooperative metabolic studies of cell interactions in trout liver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-249
Number of pages13
JournalIn Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1990


  • cell-to-cell interactions
  • culture
  • fish
  • hepatocytes
  • liver
  • trout

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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