Structural and functional changes in acute liver injury

Environ Health Perspect. 1976 Jun;15:13-25. doi: 10.1289/ehp.761513.


Carbon tetrachloride produces liver cell injury in a variety of animal species. The first structurally recognizable changes occur in the endoplasmic reticulum, with alteration in ribosome-membrane interactions. Later there is an increase in intracellular fat, and the formation of tangled nets of the ergastoplasm. At no time are there changes in mitochondria or single membrane limited bodies in cells with intact plasmalemma, although a relative increase in cell sap may appear. In dead cells (those with plasmalemma discontinuties) crystalline deposits of calcium phosphatase may be noted. Functional changes are related to the endoplasmic reticulum and the plasma membrane. An early decrease in protein synthesis takes place; an accumulation of neutral lipid is related to this change. Later alterations in the ergastoplasmic functions (e.g., mixed function oxidation) occurs. Carbon tetrachloride is not the active agent; rather, a product of its metabolism, probably the CC1, free radical, is. The mechanisms of injury include macromolecular adduction and peroxide propagation. A third possibility includes a cascade effect with the production of secondary and tertiary products, also toxic in nature, with the ability to produce more widespread damage to intracellular structures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Carbon Tetrachloride Poisoning / pathology*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury*
  • Chloroform / toxicity*
  • Dogs
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / ultrastructure
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / ultrastructure*
  • Liver Diseases / metabolism
  • Liver Diseases / pathology
  • Mitochondria, Liver / metabolism
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Rats
  • Ribosomes / ultrastructure


  • Chloroform
  • Calcium