Toxic injury to hepatic sinusoids: sinusoidal obstruction syndrome (veno-occlusive disease)

Semin Liver Dis. 2002 Feb;22(1):27-42. doi: 10.1055/s-2002-23204.


The term veno-occlusive disease of the liver refers to a form of toxic liver injury characterized clinically by the development of hepatomegaly, ascites, and jaundice, and histologically by diffuse damage in the centrilobular zone of the liver. The cardinal histologic features of this injury are marked sinusoidal fibrosis, necrosis of pericentral hepatocytes, and narrowing and eventual fibrosis of central veins. Recent studies suggest that the primary site of the toxic injury is sinusoidal endothelial cells, followed by a series of biologic processes that lead to circulatory compromise of centrilobular hepatocytes, fibrosis, and obstruction of liver blood flow. Thus we propose a more appropriate name for this form of liver injury--sinusoidal obstruction syndrome. This review encompasses historical perspectives, clinical manifestations of sinusoidal obstruction syndrome in the setting of hematopoietic cell transplantation, histologic features of centrilobular injury, and a discussion of the pathophysiology of sinusoidal injury, based on both animal and clinical investigations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Division
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Hepatic Veno-Occlusive Disease* / drug therapy
  • Hepatic Veno-Occlusive Disease* / pathology
  • Hepatic Veno-Occlusive Disease* / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Thrombolytic Therapy