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J Hepatol. 1999 Sep;31(3):497-507.

Participation of different cell types in the restitutive response of the rat liver to periportal injury induced by allyl alcohol.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Albany Medical College, NY 12208-3479, USA.



Restitution of periportal liver necrosis induced by allyl alcohol involves proliferation and differentiation of putative liver stem cells. The participation of different non-epithelial cell types required to restore the liver cord structure in this process has not been well documented. The aim of the study was to determine the anatomic relationships among cells of liver lineage, extracellular matrix, and non-parenchymal cells during repair of periportal liver injury.


Periportal liver injury in rats was induced by intraperitoneal injection of allyl alcohol. Cells of the liver lineage, as well as Kupffer cells, hepatic stellate cells, macrophages, and the extracellular matrix components fibronectin and laminin were localized using immunohistologic methods for 7 days after injury.


During the first day there was loss of periportal hepatocytes, as well as sinusoidal nonparenchymal cells, including macrophages, Kupffer cells and hepatic stellate cells. After day 1 macrophages appeared within the necrotic zone, increased until days 3-4, and then decreased to a few cells within reappearing sinusoids. At days 2-5 there was first proliferation of small "null" intraportal cells, which later acquired markers of ductular (OV-6, CKPan ) and liver cell differentiation (alphafetoprotein, carbamoylphosphate synthetase-I), eventually assuming mature hepatocyte morphology. There was also moderate bile duct hyperplasia with extension of small newly-formed ducts from the intraportal zone into the immediate periportal zone. Kupffer cells and hepatic stellate cells became enlarged at the borders of the necrotic and non-necrotic central zone and then appeared to migrate into the oval cell population expanding across the periportal zone. During the restitution phase, hepatic stellate cells were closely associated with the proliferating oval cells, surrounding small aggregates of oval cells which appeared to be forming liver cords. Kupffer cells also stained for fibronectin, and fibronectin was seen at the intersection of the injured portal and uninjured central zones and around the expanding oval cells. In some intraportal zones, the laminin surrounding the bile ducts was lost. It was speculated that this may permit proliferating ductular cells to migrate out of the bile ducts into the periportal zone. By days 6 and 7 most of the injured liver was restored to normal, with a few foci of chronic inflammation remaining.


There is a close anatomic relationship between immature liver lineage cells (oval/duct cells) and non-parenchymal cells during the restitutive repair of periportal injury. The nature of this relationship to the possible production of growth factors and expression of growth factor receptors by the cells involved during the restitution process is discussed.

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