The portal lobule in rat liver fibrosis: a re-evaluation of the liver unit

Hepatology. 1998 Feb;27(2):481-7. doi: 10.1002/hep.510270223.


We re-evaluated three schemes of liver organization: the classic lobule, the portal lobule, and Rappaport's liver acinus. The lobular angioarchitecture of normal rat liver and the three-dimensional structure of pseudolubules found in rat livers with fibrosis induced by swine serum were compared with the classic lobule of the pig. Normal and fibrotic rat livers and pig livers were perfused, injected with either India ink or 0.75% OsO4 through the portal and/or hepatic vein, and immersionfixed. Whole lobes and hand-cut thick sections were made transparent with a solution of benzyl benzoate and methyl salicylate. The angioarchitecture of normal rat liver differs from pig liver. In the former, terminal portal branches and central veins interdigitate, and in the latter, numerous terminal portal branches that arise from interlobular portal veins establish a vascular basket surrounding one central vein and forming classic lobule. The structure of liver acinus is never found in the pig liver. The terminal portal branch, together with the terminal hepatic artery and bile duct, are present inside each pseudolobule of fibrotic rat livers. Blood from the terminal portal branch flows through inlet venules into radiating sinusoids, and, at the periphery converges into newly formed septal and angular outlet venules; these venules terminate in fibrotic central veins located at each corner. Pseudolobules are not rugby ball-like as Rappaport's liver acini are but are polyhedron in shape. The rat pseudolobules are comparable with the portal lobule; its structure and microcirculation are the reverse of the pig classic lobule. Rat pseudolobules are different from liver acini, as shown by the following: 1) their three-dimensional shape is different; and 2) they have a reverse relationship to classic lobules while acini are defined to subdivide classic lobules. In normal and fibrotic rat livers, the liver unit is the portal lobule with a terminal portal branch as the axial branch and central veins at the periphery. The co-existence of liver acini and classic lobules is doubtful.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon*
  • Coloring Agents
  • Female
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Liver / anatomy & histology*
  • Liver / blood supply
  • Liver Circulation*
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Experimental / pathology*
  • Male
  • Microcirculation*
  • Osmium Tetroxide
  • Rats / anatomy & histology*
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Swine / anatomy & histology*


  • Coloring Agents
  • chinese ink
  • Carbon
  • Osmium Tetroxide