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Studies In Vitro On The Uptake And Degradation Of Sodium Hyaluronate In Rat Liver Endothelial Cells

B Smedsrød, H Pertoft, S Eriksson, J R E Fraser, T C Laurent

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Rat liver endothelial cells in primary cultures at 7 degrees C bind radioactively labelled sodium hyaluronate (HA; Mr 400 000) specifically and with high affinity (Kd = 6 × 10(-11) M). Maximal binding capacity is approx. 10(4) molecules per cell. Inhibition experiments with unlabelled HA and oligosaccharides from HA indicate that each molecule is bound by several receptors acting co-operatively and that the single receptor recognizes a tetra- or hexa-saccharide sequence of the polysaccharide. At 37 degrees C the liver endothelial cells endocytose the HA. The process combines the features of a receptor-mediated and a fluid-phase endocytosis. The rate of internalization does not show any saturation with increasing HA concentration, but is approximately proportional to the polysaccharide concentration at and above the physiological concentration. At 50 micrograms of free HA/l each liver endothelial cell accumulates 0.1 fg of the polysaccharide/min. Fluorescent HA accumulates in perinuclear granules, presumably lysosomes. Degradation products from HA appear in the medium about 30 min after addition of the polysaccharide to the cultures. The radioactivity from HA containing N-[3H]acetyl groups or 14C in the sugar rings is recovered mainly as [3H]acetate and [14C]acetate respectively. Estimations of the capacity of liver endothelial cells to internalize and degrade HA in vitro indicate that these cells may be primarily responsible for the clearance of HA from human blood in vivo.