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The liver in infectious mononucleosis


1. Twenty-two patients with infectious mononucleosis were studied by liver biopsy and paper electrophoresis of the serum proteins. The findings were compared with a similar group of 30 patients with infectious hepatitis.

2. The essential histologic features of infectious mononucleosis were the presence in the hepatic sinusoids and portal tracts of chronic inflammatory cells resembling small lymphocytes, with essentially no parenchymal cell damage. Admixed with this lymphocytic infiltrate, but in relatively minimal numbers, were a few plasma cells and polymorphonuclear leukocytes. In addition, in infectious mononucleosis there were, with rare exceptions, no lipochrome-containing Kupffer cells. Thus, in the majority of cases, the histologic picture was distinct from that seen in infectious hepatitis. Only in comparing a few of the more severe infectious mononucleosis cases with subsiding infectious hepatitis cases was there any tendency for the two pictures to merge, and the distinction on histologic grounds between the two entities could be made in the great majority of cases.

3. The most commonly seen abnormalities in the paper electrophoretic patterns of sera obtained from patients with infectious mononucleosis were decreased albumin, increased gamma globulin, not infrequent but variable changes in alpha2 globulin, and the presence of abnormal proteins migrating with mobilities intermediate to alpha2 and beta, and beta and gamma globulins. The abnormalities observed in infectious hepatitis were similar to those of infectious mononucleosis, except that in hepatitis alpha2 globulin was decreased more consistently, gamma globulin increased less frequently, and beta globulin, which was normal in practically all the cases of infectious mononucleosis, was increased in a considerable number of cases.

4. Treatment of patients with infectious mononucleosis need not include prolonged bed rest and restriction of activity in an effort to avoid the development of chronic liver disease.

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Sullivan, B.H., Irey, N.S., Pileggi, V.J. et al. The liver in infectious mononucleosis. Digest Dis Sci 2, 210–223 (1957).

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  • Kupffer Cell
  • Infectious Hepatitis
  • Polymorphonuclear Leukocyte
  • Portal Tract
  • Electrophoretic Pattern