Abstract

Liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) are highly specialized endothelial cells representing the interface between blood cells on the one side and hepatocytes and hepatic stellate cells on the other side. LSECs represent a permeable barrier. Indeed, the association of ‘fenestrae’, absence of diaphragm and lack of basement membrane make them the most permeable endothelial cells of the mammalian body. They also have the highest endocytosis capacity of human cells. In physiological conditions, LSECs regulate hepatic vascular tone contributing to the maintenance of a low portal pressure despite the major changes in hepatic blood flow occurring during digestion. LSECs maintain hepatic stellate cell quiescence, thus inhibiting intrahepatic vasoconstriction and fibrosis development. In pathological conditions, LSECs play a key role in the initiation and progression of chronic liver diseases. Indeed, they become capillarized and lose their protective properties, and they promote angiogenesis and vasoconstriction. LSECs are implicated in liver regeneration following acute liver injury or partial hepatectomy since they renew from LSECs and/or LSEC progenitors, they sense changes in shear stress resulting from surgery, and they interact with platelets and inflammatory cells. LSECs also play a role in hepatocellular carcinoma development and progression, in ageing, and in liver lesions related to inflammation and infection. This review also presents a detailed analysis of the technical aspects relevant for LSEC analysis including the markers these cells express, the available cell lines and the transgenic mouse models. Finally, this review provides an overview of the strategies available for a specific targeting of LSECs.

Links