Journal of hepatology vol:44 issue:6 pages:1098-104
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Hepatic stellate cells (HSC) have been hypothesised to derive from the neural crest, based on their expression of multiple neural/neuroendocrine features and their contacts with autonomic nerve endings. METHODS: We studied the emergence of HSC in the liver during embryonic development in a transgenic mouse line expressing yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) in all neural crest cells and their derivatives. Cellular YFP expression in these mice was compared with desmin expression between embryonic day (E) 11.5 and adulthood. RESULTS: YFP was abundantly expressed in neural crest cells delaminating from the neural tube and in all known neural crest-derived structures and cell populations. In particular, YFP expressing cells perfectly mimicked the spatial and temporal pattern of enteric nervous system development from neural crest cells migrating from the postotic region. Cells within the adrenal medulla were also YFP positive. Analysis of the liver showed that desmin-expressing, stellate-shaped, perisinusoidally located HSC were evident from E11.5 onwards. However, no detectable YFP expression was seen in the developing liver or in HSC, from E11.5 until adulthood. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest HSC do not descend from the neural crest, and therefore may derive from the septum transversum mesenchyme, from endoderm or from the mesothelial liver capsule.