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J Hepatol. 1987 Oct;5(2):174-81.

A morphological study of the early stages of hepatic fibrosis induced by low doses of dimethylnitrosamine in the rat.

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  • 1Institute of Experimental Pathology, University of Ancona School of Medicine, Italy.


Hepatic fibrosis has been induced in rats by low doses of dimethylnitrosamine (DMN) and special attention has been paid to early morphological events. DMN (10 microliter/kg body wt., i.p.) was given 3 days a week for 3 weeks to Sprague-Dawley rats. Liver samples were taken on days 7, 14, 21, 28 and 35 and examined by light and electron microscopy. Hemorrhagic necrosis, mainly centrolobular, was evident on day 7, with disruption of the sinusoidal lining, and widening or disappearance of the spaces of Disse invaded by erythrocytes and lymphocytes. Large granular lymphocytes similar to pit cells were also present in close contact with hepatocytes. At day 14, fibrotic septa were associated with cells bearing 'transitional' features between those of lipocytes, myofibroblasts and fibroblasts. Hepatocytes showed foci of increased smooth endoplasmic reticulum, and altered sinusoidal and canalicular membranes. At day 21, all animals showed nodularity of the parenchyma, with evidence of micronodular cirrhosis associated with ascites in two animals. At day 35 (19 days after cessation of treatment) there was little residual inflammation, but well-defined micronodules were still present in all animals. This shows that, in the rat, 3-week treatment with a low dose of DMN produces micronodular cirrhosis following diffuse hemorrhagic necrosis without steatosis. The response of the animals was uniform and reproducible. Lesions of the sinusoidal wall and of membranes of liver cells associated with the inflammatory reaction appeared prominent.

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