Liver Histology

  • Simone Carotti
  • Sergio MoriniEmail author
  • Guido Carpino
  • Eugenio Gaudio


The basic histological structure of the liver consists of closely intertwined epithelial cell cords that make it a cordonal gland. The classic hepatic lobule with the portal spaces in the periphery and the centrilobular vein in the center is the simplest and most versatile representation of the morpho-functional unit of the organ. Aspects of liver physiology and metabolism show a heterogeneous distribution along the porto-central axis of the lobule determining the basis of the metabolic zonation, that characterizes the functional attitude and the ultrastructural features of the different liver cell types. The main hepatic cell type is the hepatocyte with its different specialized domains, such as the sinusoidal, the lateral and the canalicular. Between hepatocytes cordons there are tortuous vascular channel named sinusoids, lined by fenestrated endothelial cells allowing blood plasma freely moving from vessel to perisinusoidal space of Disse facing the hepatocytes. In the Disse’s space, hepatic stellate cells, storing vitamin A, localize in a quiescent phenotype and they activate in response to chronic hepatic damage. The sinusoid endothelial cells and the hepatic stellate cells are also able to respond to vasoactive substances modifying the sinusoidal diameter. Resident macrophages, such as Kupffer cells and circulating monocyte, together with lymphocytic cells, such as NK cells, play roles in the maintenance of immune tolerance in the liver or in the activation of pro-inflammatory responses. Cholangiocytes lining the lumen of the biliary tree are responsible for the modification of the bile composition, are heterogeneous in size, regulation and response to biliary damage. The blood supplying the hepatic lobule is distributed by the branches of the portal vein and the hepatic artery, the latter terminating in a peribiliary plexus around the bile ducts. The wall of extra hepatic biliary tracts is formed by mucosal, muscle and serosal layers. The gallbladder with its mucosal folds is able to reabsorbs water and solutes fluids in order to concentrate bile.


Liver morpho-functional unit Liver zonation Liver cell types Cholangiocyte heterogeneity Hepatic microcirculation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simone Carotti
    • 1
  • Sergio Morini
    • 1
    Email author
  • Guido Carpino
    • 2
  • Eugenio Gaudio
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Medicine and SurgeryUniversity Campus Bio-Medico of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Motor, Human and Health SciencesUniversity of Rome “Foro Italico”RomeItaly
  3. 3.Department of Anatomical, Histological, Locomotor and Legal Medicine SciencesSapienza UniversityRomeItaly

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