Intrahepatic distribution of nerves in the rat

Anat Rec. 1978 May;191(1):55-67. doi: 10.1002/ar.1091910106.


The intrahepatic distribution of nerves in the rat was studied using neurohistochemical and electron microscopic methods. Innervation was restricted primarily to vessels in the portal space and hilus. Both adrenergic and cholinergic fibers were observed in the adventitia of hepatic arteries, and to a lesser extent adjacent to portal veins. Some of the cholinergic fibers, however, were not contiguous with the vasculature. Near the hilus many of these fibers were associated with ganglia while peripherally some coursed into the immediately adjacent parenchyma where end bulbs abutted on hepatocytes. Ultrastructurally, scattered small nerves, devoid of neurolemma, were found contiguous with the portal lamina of hepatocytes. Nerve fibers deeper within the lobule were not seen but numerous gap junctions were observed between contiguous hepatocytes. Central and sublobular hepatic veins lacked innervation but adrenergic nerves were demonstrated in the walls of larger hepatic veins. Innervation of the biliary system was sparse. While nerves were interposed between vessels and bile ducts, such nerves tended to be associated more closely with the vasculature.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Animals
  • Hepatic Artery / innervation
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Liver / innervation*
  • Liver / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Nerve Fibers / ultrastructure
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / anatomy & histology
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / ultrastructure
  • Rats / anatomy & histology*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / anatomy & histology
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / ultrastructure


  • Acetylcholinesterase