2016-04-04 – Cellular & Molecular Immunology (2016) 13, 347–353

Immunological functions of liver sinusoidal endothelial cells

Liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSECs) line the liver sinusoids and separate passenger leukocytes in the sinusoidal lumen from hepatocytes. LSECs further act as a platform for adhesion of various liver-resident immune cell populations such as Kupffer cells, innate lymphoid cells or liver dendritic cells. In addition to having an extraordinary scavenger function, LSECs possess potent immune functions, serving as sentinel cells to detect microbial infection through pattern recognition receptor activation and as antigen (cross)-presenting cells. LSECs cross-prime naive CD8 T cells, causing their rapid differentiation into memory T cells that relocate to secondary lymphoid tissues and provide protection when they re-encounter the antigen during microbial infection. Cross-presentation of viral antigens by LSECs derived from infected hepatocytes triggers local activation of effector CD8 T cells and thereby assures hepatic immune surveillance. The immune function of LSECs complements conventional immune-activating mechanisms to accommodate optimal immune surveillance against infectious microorganisms while preserving the integrity of the liver as a metabolic organ.