noun, plural: hepatocytes
Any of the large, polygonal-shaped cells in the liver.
Hepatocytes are the major functional component of the liver. They make up 70-80% of the mass of the liver.
They are parenchyma cells arranged in plates that anastomose with one another. Most of them have a single nucleus although binucleate cells are also not uncommon. They also have abundant rough and smooth endoplasmic reticulum, as well as stacks of Golgi membrane, which are necessary for their function.
They perform various functions such as synthesis of proteins and lipids for secretion, storage and transformation of carbohydrates (e.g. glycogen into glucose), synthesis of cholesterol, bile salts and phospholipids, and detoxification, modification and excretion of exogenous and endogenous substances.
Word origin: Greek hépat-, s. of hêpar liver + New Latin –cyta, from Greek kutos, hollow vessel.
Synonym: liver cell.
See also: liver.