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Microsc Res Tech. 1997 Sep 15;38(6):571-97.

Comparative morphology of the gallbladder and biliary tract in vertebrates: variation in structure, homology in function and gallstones.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Kent State University, Ohio 44242, USA.


A review of investigations on the morphology of the gallbladder and biliary tract in fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals was performed. Scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and light microscopy observations by the authors were also included. Variations in the presence or absence of a gallbladder, surface epithelium of the gallbladder, and differences in the morphology of the biliary tract in vertebrates were reported. Many differences were diet-related. Despite some dissimilarities observed, analogous functioning of the biliary system was accomplished by its various components, with the biliary ducts performing the function of the gallbladder when this organ was absent. In addition, the occurrence of peculiar parasitism and gallstones among some cases of vertebrates, including humans, was presented.

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