Antibodies specific for fibronectin were utilized to determine the sites of localization in the liver during development. The livers of fetal rats from each of gestation days 11‐19, and from days 1 and 8 postpartum, were studied by fluorescence microscopy. Fibronectin was localized predominatly in megakaryocytes and megakaryocyte precursors, and to a lesser extent in the extracellular matrix surrounding blood vessels and between hepatocytes and sinusoids. The cytoplasm of megakaryocytes and their precursors displayed bright fluorescence but their nuclei were negative for fibronectin. Hepatocytes had negative or faint fluorescence. Megakaryocytes were present in the liver from day 12, and were numerous from day 13 through most of the rest of gestation. The relative numbers of megakaryocytes decreased in later gestation; at 8 days postpartum only a few were observed per section. Hepatic megakaryocytes appeared before megakaryocytes were established in spleen and bone marrow. The early and persistent high levels of fibronectin in hepatic megakaryocytes, in the absence of comparable localization within hepatocytes, leads us to the hypothesis that megakaryocytes are important in establishing circulating fibronectin levels in the fetus. Similarly, bone marrow megakaryocytes may contribute to circulating fibronectin in the adult.
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