Histology of Liver

Embryology and Gross Morphology
Histology of Liver
Extracellular Matrix of Liver
Methodology of Liver
Application of Liver Histology

Table of Contents

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Functional Units of Liver

  • Hepatic Acini (Rappaport)
  • Portal Lobule
  • Classic Lobule

Hepatic Acini (Rappaport)

Hepatic Lobule

Relationshop Between Acini and Lobule

zone 1 = peripheral area

zone 2 = midzonal area

zone 3 = several centrilobular area

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One-cell thick, sponge-like plates separated by sinusoids

Two-cell thick in children up to 5-6 years

Polygonal epithelial cell

Well defined plasma membrane

  • Basolateral 75%
  • Bile canalicular 15%

Hepatocytes : Nucleus

Centrally located, Round

Contains one or more nucleoli

May be binucleated, Rare mitotic activity

May be polyploid in elderly persons

Glycogen accumulation found around portal tracts in adolescent and may be conspicuous in adult with some conditions : DM, pancreatic carcinoma, CHF (no diagnostic significance)

Polyploid nuclei, larger than normal nuclei

Intranuclear vacuoles found in particular conditions

Hepatocytes : Cytoplasm


Contains fine basophilic granules : RER

Fine, reticulated, foamy appearance from glycogen accumulation

Diurnal and diet-related

Intracytoplasmic glycogen accumulation

PAS staining confirming glycogen in cytoplasm of hepatocytes.

Iron-containing vacuoles

found in older individuals

Hemosiderin and copper

0-9 months old

Coarse, birefringent

Periportal hepatocytes


Wear and tear pigment

Fine, well delineated, light brown

PAS-positive, diastase-resistant, partly acid-fast positive

Zone 3 particularly at the canalicular pole

Progressive increasing

Oxidized lipids in lysosomes


Poorly defined, less granular

Thrombi formation in canaliculi of zone3

Age-Related Variation

Fetal Liver Histology

Extramedullary hematopoiesis in liver

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Bile Canaliculus

Intercellular space

Apposition of the edges of gutterlike hemicanals on adjacent surfaces of 2-3 neighboring hepatocytes

Connect to small portal bile ducts via canals of Hering

Chicken-Wire Like (enzyme histochemical method for ATPase)

Iron Hematoxylin

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Sinusoidal Lining Cells

Endothelial cells

Thin, indistinct, sievelike cytoplasm

Small, elongated, darkly stained nuclei without nucleoli

Absent basement membrane

Kupffer cells

Bean shape nucleus

Plump cytoplasm with star-shaped extensions

Near portal tract, mononuclear-phagocytic

Special preparation showing endothelial cells and kupffer cells.

Space of Disse

Zone of rapid intercellular exchange


  • plasma
  • scant CNT : reticulin forming reticular network
  • perisinusoidal cells : lipocytes/Ito and pit cells

Sinusoids and Disses Space


Modified resting fibroblasts

Stores fat and vitamin A and produces collagen

Significant role in hepatic fibrogenesis

Prominent in hypervitaminosis A


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Hepatic Veins

Hepatic vein, sublobular vein, terminal hepatic venule

Determine the size of an acinus

Very thin wall lined by endothelial cells, demonstrated by Trichrome or Victoria blue

Perivenular sclerosis in alcoholic patients : an index of progressive liver injury

Thickening of wall of THV is found in

  • Pericellular fibrosis
  • Central hyaline sclerosis

Terminal Hepatic Venule

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Portal Tracts


  • Hepatic artery branch
  • Portal vein branch
  • Bile duct and ductules
  • Lymphatic channels
  • CNT

Amount of CNT and size of intraportal structures depend on the size of the portal tract

Autonomic nerves may be seen

Contains few lymphocytes, macrophages and mast cells

No PMN or Plasma cells

Glissons capsule extensions into parenchyma must not be interpreted as cirrhosis in specimens of subcapsular parenchyma

Bile Duct

Cuboid to columnar epithelial cells

Larger bile ducts are located in the central part and have more periductal fibrous tissue
Irregular, circumferential, but not concentric, manner as in sclerosing cholangitis and cholecystitis

Always accompanied by a portal vein and hepatic artery

Connectd to canaliculi by bile ductules and canals of Hering

Bile Ductule


Peripheral zone of the portal tract

Accompanied by only portal vein, not by a hepatic artery branch

Canals of Hering

Not discernible

Partly by ductular cells and partly by hepatocytes


Limiting Plate

Very important landmark to define pathology of liver

It is destroyed in active hepatitis

Chronic Active Hepatitis

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Liver Histology for Pathologists

Summarized By Thirayost Nimmanon

ػ ʶ ҹ


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Ѻاش 15/06/2010


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