, Volume 382, Issue 1, pp 21-30

Orcein positive granules in the hepatocytes in chronic intrahepatic cholestasis

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The morphological characteristics of orcein positive granules in hepatocytes from 11 patients with chronic intrahepatic cholestasis and from 2 newborn normal livers were studied. Histochemical investigations revealed their protein nature and many sulphydryl and/or disulphide groups. Copper was demonstrated in the granules by histochemical techniques and electron X-ray micronalysis. No difference was observed in the hepatic distribution and appearance of the granules between the livers of those with chronic cholestasis and the newborn. Ultrastructurally, a variety of electron dense granules were seen at the site of orcein positive granules in the hepatocytes of the patient with primary biliary cirrhosis. Some had a single-layered membrane and seem to be lysosomal derivatives. It is suggested that the copper in lysosomes seen in both chronic cholestasis and normal newborn livers, need not to be cytotoxic.