Intravital imaging reveals inflammation as a dominant pathophysiology of age-related hepatovascular changes

Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2022 Mar 1;322(3):C508-C520. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00408.2021. Epub 2022 Jan 5.


Aging is the most significant risk factor for the majority of chronic diseases, including liver disease. The cellular, molecular, and pathophysiological mechanisms that promote age-induced hepatovascular changes are unknown due to our inability to visualize changes in liver pathophysiology in live mice over time. We performed quantitative liver intravital microscopy (qLIM) in live C57BL/6J mice to investigate the impact of aging on the hepatovascular system over a 24-mo period. qLIM revealed that age-related hepatic alterations include reduced liver sinusoidal blood flow, increased sinusoidal vessel diameter, and loss of small hepatic vessels. The ductular cell structure deteriorates with age, along with altered expression of hepatic junctional proteins. Furthermore, qLIM imaging revealed increased inflammation in the aged liver, which was linked to increased expression of proinflammatory macrophages, hepatic neutrophils, liver sinusoidal endothelial cells, senescent cells, and procoagulants. Finally, we detected elevated NF-κB pathway activity in aged livers. Overall, these findings emphasize the importance of inflammation in age-related hepatic vasculo-epithelial alterations and highlight the utility of qLIM in studying age-related effects in organ pathophysiology.

Keywords: aging in liver; inflammation; intravital imaging; senescence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Endothelial Cells*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Intravital Microscopy
  • Liver* / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.17203601.v1