Liver pathology in collagen vascular disorders highlighting the vascular changes within portal tracts

Indian J Pathol Microbiol. Jan-Mar 2011;54(1):25-31. doi: 10.4103/0377-4929.77319.


Background: Collagen vascular disorders (CVDs) are autoimmune disorders with multisystem involvement. Clinical liver involvement is not a characteristic feature though histological involvement could be frequent. Liver disease in CVDs could be the consequence of various factors.

Aim: The aim was to analyze the histological spectrum of liver in collagen vascular disorders (CVDs) at autopsy.

Materials and methods: Thirty-six autopsy livers negative for hepatitis B or C virus were studied in CVD cases with no known association with chronic liver disease or vascular thrombosis or hematological disorder. Cirrhotic and normal livers were used as controls. The paired t-test, one-way ANOVA, and two-sided Dunnett t-test were used for comparison (< 0.05). None of the control cases showed any abnormal vessels.

Results: There were 21 systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), 7 rheumatoid arthritis (RA), 5 systemic sclerosis (SSc), and 3 polyarteritis nodosa (PAN) cases (M:F = 11:25, age range 23-60 years).

Histology: Diffuse nodular regenerative hyperplasia of liver (NRHL) was seen in 10 cases, and 6 (5 SLE and 1 RA) had numerous abnormal thin-walled vessels in intermediate- and small-sized portal tracts with no vascular occlusion or inflammation. Moderate sized portal tracts showed more interface and lobular inflammation. The main portal vein and its major branches were normal. None of these six cases had increased transmainases (P>0.05). Most SLE cases had increased transaminases (P<0.05). No evidence of portal hypertension was seen in all except in one RA. Septicemia is known to be associated with raised transaminases.

Conclusion: A rare pathology of conglomerate of abnormal vessels in intermediate- and small-sized portal system was observed co-existing with NRHL in CVDs. Raised liver enzyme with interface hepatitis in CVD may not necessarily warrant an overlap, as a similar feature could be observed in septicemia.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autopsy
  • Collagen Diseases / complications*
  • Collagen Diseases / pathology*
  • Female
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Humans
  • Liver / blood supply
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Diseases / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Portal Vein / pathology
  • Vascular Diseases / complications*
  • Vascular Diseases / pathology*