What is a Kupffer cell?

The Kupffercell (KC) is the residential macrophage of the liver located in the space of Disse. The KC constitute between 80-90% of all tissue macrophages present in the body.


The KC plays an essential role in the immunity as the liver has an important filter function by the fact that it is exposed to gut-derived bacteria, microbial debris and bacterial endotoxins. They also play a role in the disturbed equilibrium causing chronic inflammation in auto immuun liver diseases, viral hepatitis and alcohol and non alcoholic steatohepatitis. The activated KC produces different cytokines, reactive oxygen species, prostanoides and nitric oxide. This ongoing dysbalanced inflammation has an effect on neighboring cells as hepatocytes, endothelial and stellate cells. The transformation of the stellate cell to myofibroblast cells is the cause for fibrogenesis. The uncontrolled scar tissue formation as a reaction on the chronic inflammation driven by activated KCs,  will cause livercirrhosis and its complications like portal hypertension, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, variceal bleedings, hepatic encephalopathy and cancer.