Yonago Acta medica 1996;39:1-24

Innervation of the Liver: A Review of Anatomical and Pathological Approaches

Keiichi Ichihara and Hideo Akiyoshi

Second Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Tottori University, Yonago 683, Japan

To reveal the role of hepatic nerves in pathological states, some of our studies within histological and pathological fields selected from our achievements done between 1980 and December 1995 are reviewed with the so-far published literature for innervation of the liver. Today, some histological roles of liver fibrosis are clarified by much progress in research. Recent pathological areas of controversy are stressed with special attention to the relationship between fibroblasts and hepatic nerves in liver cirrhosis: great difficulty is put to interpret the meaning of histological localization of nerve terminals within fibroblasts and myofibroblasts. It is discussed that parasympathetic cholinergic innervation participates in some stages of the development of fibrosis and in vascular regulation of blood circulation in liver cirrhosis. Directions for future research are suggested, and general conclusions about the role of hepatic innervation in homeostasis are added. In studying the pathological conditions of liver innervation for the present study, we used fluorescence microscopy for catecholamines, neurohistochemistory for acetylcholinesterase, immunohistochemistry for peptidergic neurotransmitters, and transmission and scanning electron microscopy.

Key words: cirrhosis; electron microscopy; fibroblast; innervation; liver