Frontiers in physiology

Hepatocyte Ploidy Is a Diversity Factor for Liver Homeostasis.

PMID 29163206


Polyploidy, the existence of cells containing more than one pair of chromosomes, is a well-known feature of mammalian hepatocytes. Polyploid hepatocytes are found either as cells with a single polyploid nucleus or as multinucleated cells with diploid or even polyploid nuclei. In this study, we evaluate the degree of polyploidy in the murine liver by accounting both DNA content and number of nuclei per cell. We demonstrate that mouse hepatocytes with diploid nuclei have distinct metabolic characteristics compared to cells with polyploid nuclei. In addition to strong differential gene expression, comprising metabolic as well as signaling compounds, we found a strongly decreased insulin binding of nuclear polyploid cells. Our observations were associated with nuclear ploidy but not with total ploidy within a cell. We therefore suggest ploidy of the nuclei as an new diversity factor of hepatocytes and hypothesize that hepatocytes with polyploid nuclei may have distinct biological functions than mono-nuclear ones. This diversity is independent from the well-known heterogeneity related to the cells' position along the porto-central liver-axis.