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Hepatic stellate cell

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noun, plural: hepatic stellate cells

Any of the stellate cells found primarily in the space of Disse of the liver


The hepatic stellate cells are the stellate cells located primarily in the space of Disse. The space of Disse is the blood plasma-filled, perisinusoidal space between the hepatocyte and a sinusoid of the liver. The hepatic stellate cells are previously called lipocytes (fat-storing cells).

The cells were first known when Karl Wilhelm von Kupffer, a German anatomist, identified them the same as Kupffer cells in 1876 using a gold chloride staining technique. In 1951, Toshio Ito, a Japanese physician, proposed that the hepatic stellate cells were different from Kupffer cells (which are capable of phagocytosis).1

The hepatic stellate cells are nonparenchymal cells characterized by the abundance of retinoids in their cytoplasm.1 The presence of multiple cytoplasmic lipid droplets is a distinctive feature in routine histological preparations.2 They are the cells largely responsible in the formation of scar tissue (fibrosis) in the liver in response to a liver damage.

Abbreviation / Acronym: HSC


  • perisinusoidal cell
  • Ito cell

See also:

1 Solbiati, L. & Aiani, L. (2003). Contrast-enhanced ultrasound of liver diseases. Milan: Springer. p.32.
2 Stanciu A, Cotutiu C, Amalinei C (2002). "New data about ITO cells". Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi107 (2): 235–239.