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J Cell Biol. 1977 Jul;74(1):299-313.

Hepatocyte innervation in primates.


The efferent innervation and some characteristics of nerve fibers of the liver lobule in the tree shrew, a primate, are described. Nerve endings on hepatocytes were encountered regularly and were determined to be efferent adrenergic nerves. Transmission electron microscopy revealed nerve endings and varicosities in close apposition to the hepatocytes adjacent to the connective tissue of the triads as well as within the liver lobule in the space of Disse. Fluorescence microscopy indicated the existence of adrenergic nerves with a similar distribution. Autoradiography of the avid uptake of exogenous [3H]norepinephrine indicated that all intralobular nerves are potentially norepinephrinergic (adrenergic). Chemical sympathectomy with 6-OH-dopamine resulted in the degeneration of all intralobular liver nerve fibers as revealed by fluorescence microscopy and electron microscopy. Substantial regeneration occurred after 60-90 days but was not completed by that time. Some nerves were also observed in close association with von Kupffer cells and endothelial cells. The functional significance of the efferent liver innervation is discussed.

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