On the intrinsic innervation of normal rat liver. Histochemical and scanning electron microscopical studies

Cell Tissue Res. 1976 Aug 20;171(2):141-55. doi: 10.1007/BF00219403.


With the Bodian method stained fibers were observed in the lobules of the rat liver and with the modified Karnovsky and Roots thiocholine method cholinesterase (presumably acetylcholinesterase (AChE))-positive nerve fibers were found in a pattern similar to that of the Bodian-stained fibers. The AChE-positive nerve fibers form a network in the liver lobules in close relation to hepatocytes and sinusoids. Fluorescent varicose nerve fibers demonstrated by the glyoxylic acid and Falck-Hillarp fluorescence methods were found only in the interlobular spaces associated with vessels. As no overlapping of distribution patterns of AChE-positive nerve fibers and fluorescent nerve fibers occurs, the AChE activity of the nerves of the liver lobules probably reflects the associated presence of acetylcholine in the nerve fibers. In consequence we suggest that nerves of the liver lobules belong to the autonomic parasympathetic nervous system. SEM of liver tissue revealed light cords apparently situated in smooth-surfaced channels between adjacent hepatocytes and in the space of Disse, where fibers also cross sinusoids. We tentatively suggest that the cords of the SEM represent the AChE-positive nerve fibers of our LM observations.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / analysis
  • Animals
  • Cholinergic Fibers / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Liver / innervation*
  • Liver / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Rats
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / anatomy & histology


  • Acetylcholinesterase