Involvement of cell junctions in hepatocyte culture functionality

Crit Rev Toxicol. 2006 Apr;36(4):299-318. doi: 10.1080/10408440600599273.


In liver, like in other multicellular systems, the establishment of cellular contacts is a prerequisite for normal functioning. In particular, well-defined cell junctions between hepatocytes, including adherens junctions, desmosomes, tight junctions, and gap junctions, are known to play key roles in the performance of liver-specific functionality. In a first part of this review article, we summarize the current knowledge concerning cell junctions and their roles in hepatic (patho)physiology. In a second part, we discuss their relevance in liver-based in vitro modeling, thereby highlighting the use of primary hepatocyte cultures as suitable in vitro models for preclinical pharmaco-toxicological testing. We further describe the actual strategies to regain and maintain cell junctions in these in vitro systems over the long-term.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adherens Junctions / physiology*
  • Gap Junctions / physiology
  • Hepatocytes / cytology
  • Hepatocytes / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Junctions / physiology*
  • Tight Junctions / physiology