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Mod Pathol. 2002 Jul;15(7):699-704.

Kupffer cell aggregation and perivenular distribution in steatohepatitis.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Cytokine release from inflammatory cells, endotoxin, lipid peroxidation, and generation of reactive oxygen species are among the factors currently thought to be important in the pathogenesis of alcoholic and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (SH). To more fully evaluate the role of mononuclear inflammatory cells in SH, 11 needle liver biopsies showing SH were selected for immunohistochemical staining to analyze the type and distribution of mononuclear inflammatory cells, including T and B lymphocytes and Kupffer cells (using immunostains for CD3, CD4, CD8; CD20; and CD68, respectively). An additional seven biopsies showing normal or fatty liver were also selected for CD68 immunostaining. Immunohistochemistry showed mild to moderate (1+ to 2+) numbers of T cells, with equal representation of CD4 and CD8 cells. T cells were found in portal tracts and in regions of SH. B cells were only rarely present. CD68 staining of simple fatty liver and normal liver showed elongated, spindle-shaped Kupffer cells diffusely distributed along the sinusoids throughout the lobules. In contrast, in cases of SH, there was prominent enlargement and aggregation of Kupffer cells in perivenular regions. Scattered large vacuoles of fat that had appeared to be within hepatocytes on routine stain were found actually to be within Kupffer cells. These results support the concept that hepatic Kupffer cells are a major immune effector cell in the pathogenesis of steatohepatitis. A potential direct Kupffer cell role in hepatic lipid processing is also postulated.

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