Involvement of cell junctions in hepatocyte culture functionality

Mathieu Vinken, Peggy Papeleu, Sarah Snykers, Evelien De Rop, Tom Henkens, James Kevin Chipman, Vera Rogiers, Tamara Vanhaecke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-318
Number of pages19
JournalCritical reviews in toxicology
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2006


  • adherens junctions
  • desmosomes
  • liver functioning
  • primary hepatocyte culture
  • tight junction


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