A method for the preparation of intact rat hepatocytes in high yield was first described in 1969. The procedure involved digestion of hepatic tissue by perfusion of the liver with crude collagenase; later, purified collagenase without other enzymic additions was shown to be ineffective. Recently it has been discovered that the combination of purified collagenase plus elastase is superior to crude collagenase in that it consistently provides high yields of undamaged hepatocytes. The isolated hepatocyte preparation has proved particularly useful for the study of mechanisms responsible for long-range interactions within the cell. These can be studied over prolonged time courses and in the presence of graded concentrations of specific inhibitors. Studies of this kind have demonstrated a close relationship between cytoplasmic metabolic flows and mitochondrial forces and have also revealed that the cytoplasmic and mitochondrial free NAD-linked redox potentials are maintained by energy-dependent reactions.

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