Role of Kupffer cells in iodized oil embolization

Invest Radiol. 1994 Nov;29(11):990-3. doi: 10.1097/00004424-199411000-00007.


Rationale and objectives: Iodized oil is a common oily embolic agent used in chemoembolization for treating hepatic tumors. However, how the iodized oil is cleared from the liver has been an unsettled and controversial issue. In this study, the authors attempt to clarify whether Kupffer cells are involved in the clearance of iodized oil and to evaluate the effect of hepatic arterial injection of iodized oil on the functional status of Kupffer cells.

Methods: Iodized oil was injected into the proper hepatic artery in 42 Fischer 344 rats. In vivo microscopy was performed immediately after and 1, 3, 7, 15, 30, and 60 days after injection. Electron microscopy was performed after in vivo microscopy.

Results: Kupffer cells actively captured and phagocytosed iodized oil droplets in the hepatic circulation. The number and functional status of Kupffer cells in the liver were significantly increased after the injection of the iodized oil and returned to normal when the liver was cleared of the oil.

Conclusions: Kupffer cells play an important role in clearing iodized oil from the liver. Iodized oil activates the immune defense system in the liver, which may have a synergistic effect in tumor treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Hepatic Artery
  • Injections, Intra-Arterial
  • Iodized Oil / administration & dosage
  • Iodized Oil / pharmacokinetics*
  • Iodized Oil / pharmacology
  • Kupffer Cells / drug effects
  • Kupffer Cells / metabolism*
  • Kupffer Cells / physiology
  • Liver Circulation / drug effects
  • Microcirculation / drug effects
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Phagocytosis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Transillumination
  • Venules / metabolism
  • Venules / ultrastructure


  • Iodized Oil