Sequential morphological characteristics of murine fetal liver hematopoietic microenvironment in Swiss Webster mice

Cell Tissue Res. 2011 Jun;344(3):455-69. doi: 10.1007/s00441-011-1170-1. Epub 2011 May 4.


Embryonic hematopoiesis occurs via dynamic development with cells migrating into various organs. Fetal liver is the main hematopoietic organ responsible for hematopoietic cell expansion during embryologic development. We describe the morphological sequential characteristics of murine fetal liver niches that favor the settlement and migration of hematopoietic cells from 12 days post-coitum (dpc) to 0 day post-partum. Liver sections were stained with hematoxylin and eosin, Lennert's Giemsa, Sirius Red pH 10.2, Gomori's Reticulin, and Periodic Acid Schiff/Alcian Blue pH 1.0 and pH 2.5 and were analyzed by bright-field microscopy. Indirect imunohistochemistry for fibronectin, matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1), and MMP-9 and histochemistry for naphthol AS-D chloroacetate esterase (NCAE) were analyzed by confocal microscopy. The results showed that fibronectin was related to the promotion of hepatocyte and trabecular differentiation; reticular fibers did not appear to participate in fetal hematopoiesis but contributed to the physical support of the liver after 18 dpc. During the immature phase, hepatocytes acted as the fundamental stroma for the erythroid lineage. The appearance of myeloid cells in the liver was related to perivascular and subcapsular collagen, and NCAE preceded MMP-1 expression in neutrophils, an occurrence that appeared to contribute to their liver evasion. Thus, the murine fetal liver during ontogenesis shows two different phases: one immature and mainly endodermic (<14 dpc) and the other more developed (endodermic-mesenchymal; >15 dpc) with the maturation of hepatocytes, a better definition of trabecular pattern, and an increase in the connective tissue in the capsule, portal spaces, and liver parenchyma. The decrease of hepatic hematopoiesis (migration) coincides with hepatic maturation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Female
  • Fetus
  • Hematopoietic System / cytology*
  • Liver / cytology*
  • Liver / embryology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Pregnancy