Hepatic pseudocapillarisation and atherosclerosis in ageing

Lancet. 2002 May 4;359(9317):1612-5. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(02)08524-0.


Cardiovascular disease secondary to atherosclerosis is the main cause of death and disability in industrialised countries, and ageing is the foremost risk factor for atherosclerosis. We present a hypothesis linking age-specific structural change in the liver with accepted pathogenic mechanisms leading to atherosclerosis. Ageing in the liver is associated with pseudocapillarisation of the sinusoidal endothelium, which is characterised by thickening of endothelium, basement membrane formation, and defenestration (loss of pores). Fenestrations (pores) normally form a liver sieve that allows passage of chylomicron remnants for subsequent uptake and metabolism by hepatocytes. Ageing is associated with impaired clearance of chylomicron remnants, postprandial hypertriglyceridaemia, and hence, atherosclerosis, which we propose is linked directly to loss of permeability of the liver sieve because of defenestration associated with pseudocapillarisation. Development of methods to maintain fenestrations of sinusoidal endothelium or to facilitate refenestration might be a new therapeutic strategy for management of cardiovascular disease in old people.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Arteriosclerosis / etiology*
  • Arteriosclerosis / metabolism
  • Chylomicrons / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / complications
  • Lipoproteins / metabolism
  • Liver / blood supply*
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Liver / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Rats
  • Risk Factors


  • Chylomicrons
  • Lipoproteins