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Hepatocytes are the main kind of cells in the liver and make up approximately 80% of the total liver mass. They perform some key roles in the liver including detoxification, protein synthesis and storage and bile synthesis.


Hepatocytes are round cells usually only containing one nucleus although two nuclei are not uncommon. Cells that lie adjacent to endothelial cells form the walls of sinusoids, a kind of vascular channel.

Hepatocytes include a number of different organelles such as;

All of which enable them to carry out their key functions in the liver.


Hepatocytes utilise their abundance of endoplasmic reticulum to synthesise proteins. Lipoproteins, glycoproteins and complement proteins are some of the main one manufactured within the cells. They also make their own structural proteins and enzymes.

Metabolism is also an important function that hepatocytes carry out, they form fatty acids from carbohydrates and metabolise many of the lipids from the systemic circulation.
These cells also have the ability to detoxify and inactivate compounds such as drugs, alcohol and steroids [1][2][3].


  1. Lodish, H., Berk, A., Zipursky, S. L., Matsudaira, P., Baltimore, D., Darnell, J. E. Molecular Cell Biology (Fifth Edition). W. H. Freeman and Company. New York, 2000
  2. http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/nmp/sonet/rlos/bioproc/liveranatomy/5.html
  3. http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/digestion/liver/histo_hcytes.html

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