Perisinusoidal stellate cells of the liver: important roles in retinol metabolism and fibrosis

FASEB J. 1991 Mar 1;5(3):271-7. doi: 10.1096/fasebj.5.3.2001786.


In mammals, liver perisinusoidal stellate cells play an important role as a main store of body retinol (vitamin A). This fat-soluble vitamin is essential for vision, and regulates differentiation and growth of many cell types during embryonal development as well as in adult tissues. Thus, many cell types require a continuous supply of retinol. The storage of retinol (as retinyl esters) in stellate cells ascertains ample access of retinol to such cells also during periods with a low dietary intake. In lower vertebrates such as fish, vitamin A-storing stellate cells are found not only in the hepatic lobule, but also in the connective tissues of organs like intestine, kidney, ovaries, testes, and gills. Extrahepatic vitamin A-storing stellate cells are found in higher vertebrates when excessive doses of vitamin A are administered. It is not clear at present whether these cells also play a role in retinol metabolism under normal conditions. Stellate cells proliferate in a fibrotic liver, and they have been found to synthesize connective tissue compounds such as collagen. It was recently demonstrated that stellate cells are the principal cellular source of collagen and other extracellular substances in normal as well as fibrotic livers. Therefore, stellate cells, which seem to be a specialized type of pericyte, have a central role in the pathological changes observed during the development of liver fibrosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Humans
  • Liver / cytology*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / ultrastructure
  • Liver Cirrhosis / etiology*
  • Vitamin A / metabolism*


  • Vitamin A