Organ slice viability extended for pathway characterization: an in vitro model to investigate fibrosis

Toxicol Sci. 2004 Dec;82(2):534-44. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfh285. Epub 2004 Sep 29.


Liver slice viability is extended to 96 h for rat, expanding the use of this in vitro model for studying mechanisms of injury and repair, including pathways of fibrosis. The contributing factors to increased organ slice survival consist of the use of a preservation solution for liver perfusion and slice preparation, obtaining rats that are within the weight range of 250-325 g, placing a cellulose filter atop the titanium mesh roller-insert to support the slice, and maintaining the slices in an optimized culture medium which is replaced daily. The liver slices remain metabolically active, synthesizing adenosine triphosphate (ATP), glutathione, and glycogen, and exhibit preserved organelle integrity and slice morphology. Slice preparation results in 2-cut surfaces which likely triggers a repair and regenerative response. The fibrogenic pathways are evident by the activation of stellate cells, the proliferation of myofibroblast-like cells, and an increased collagen deposition by 48 h. Markers indicative of activated stellate cells, alpha-smooth muscle actin, collagen 1a1, desmin, and HSP47 are substantiated by real time-PCR. Increased staining of alpha-smooth muscle actin initially around the vessels and by 72-96 h in the tissue is accompanied by increased collagen staining. Microarray gene expression revealed extracellular matrix changes with the up-regulation of cytoskeleton, filaments, collagens, and actin genes; and the down-regulation of genes linked with lipid metabolism. The improvements in extending liver slice survival, in conjunction with its three-dimensional multi-cellular complexity, increases the application of this in vitro model for investigating pathways of injury and repair, and fibrosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology
  • Extracellular Matrix / ultrastructure
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Genetic Markers
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / metabolism
  • Liver Cirrhosis / pathology*
  • Liver Regeneration / physiology
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Organ Culture Techniques*
  • RNA / biosynthesis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Genetic Markers
  • RNA
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Collagen
  • Caspases
  • Glutathione