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Updated: Mar 18 2018

Liver Histology

  • Overview
  • Introduction
    • Blood supply to the liver
      • liver receives majority of blood supply (75%) from the hepatic portal vein that carries venous blood that is largely depleted of oxygen
      • liver receives a lesser amount of blood supply (25%) from the hepatic artery, a branch of the celiac trunk, that carries oxygenated blood
      • in the liver, branches of the hepatic portal vein and hepatic artery supply sinusoids that bathe hepatocytes and provide for exchange of substances between the blood and liver cells
        • apical surfaces of hepatocytes face bile canaliculi
        • basolateral surfaces of hepatocytes face sinusoids
      • sinusoids empty into central veins, which empty into sublobular veins
        • sublobular veins converge to form larger hepatic veins
        • blood leaves liver by the hepatic veins that empty into the inferior vena cava (IVC)
      • "irregular capillaries"
        • sinusoids are lined by Kupffer cells and fenestrated endothelial cells (pores 100-200 nm in diameter)
          • Kupffer cells are mononuclear phagocytic cells
        • no basement membrane between endothelium and underlying hepatocytes
        • these 2 structural modifications facilitates exchange of material in liver in perisinusoidal space (space of Disse)
          • space of Disse lies between basal surfaces of hepatocytes and basal surfaces of endothelial cells and Kupffer cells that line sinusoids
            • site of exchange of materials between blood and liver cells
    • Liver acinus
      • represents functional unit of hepatic parenchyma
      • hepatocytes in each liver acinus are described as being arranged in 3 concentric elliptical zones
        • zone I
          • periportal zone
          • cells in zone I are the first to receive oxygen, nutrients, and toxins from sinusoidal blood
          • cells are the first liver cells affected by viral hepatitis
        • zone II
          • intermediate zone
        • zone III
          • centrilobular zone
          • contains P450 system
          • cells are the first liver cells affected by ischemia and alcoholic hepatitis, and are most sensitive to toxic injury
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