Frequency and distribution of DNA fragmentation as a marker of cell death in chronic liver diseases

UMMS Affiliation

Information Services, Academic Computing Services; Department of Cell Biology; Department of Pathology

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Document Type



Adult; Aged; Antigens, CD; Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic; *Apoptosis; Biopsy; Chronic Disease; *DNA Fragmentation; Female; Hepatitis B, Chronic; Hepatitis C, Chronic; Hepatitis, Autoimmune; Hepatitis, Toxic; Humans; Kupffer Cells; Liver Cirrhosis, Biliary; Liver Diseases; Liver Diseases, Alcoholic; Male; Middle Aged


Bioimaging and Biomedical Optics | Cell and Developmental Biology | Hepatology


To study the early stages of cell death in various types of chronic liver injury, liver biopsies from a total of 26 patients, including 7 with chronic hepatitis C(CHC), 4 with chronic hepatitis B(CHB), 7 with alcoholic liver disease (ALD), 4 with autoimmune or drug hepatitis (AI/DH), and 4 with primary biliary cirrhosis(PBC), were examined by an in situ nucleotidyl transferase assay (ISNTA), which detects DNA fragmentation. Positive nuclei in hepatocytes and sinusoidal lining cells were counted in all parenchymal areas, excluding triads and areas of fibrosis, using a computer with Sigmascan software. The number of positive hepatocytes/mm2 was similar in the biopsies of patients with CHC, CHB, ALD and AI/DH, but significantly lower in PBC. The number of positive sinusoidal lining cells/mm2 was significantly greater in biopsies with CHC compared to CHB, ALD, AI/DH and PBC. Double staining revealed that the ISNTA-positive sinusoidal lining cells were also CD68 positive, indicating that they were Kupffer cells. The frequency of ISNTA positivity did not correlate with serum AST or ALT levels, steatosis, cell swelling or cirrhosis. ISNTA-positive hepatocytes were more frequent than acidophilic bodies in every disease category. We conclude that apoptosis may be a common pathway of cell death in different liver diseases, that the high frequency of DNA fragmentation in Kupffer cells in CHC suggests that during chronic hepatitis C infection activated Kupffer cells may be subject to regulatory control by apoptosis and that ISNTA is more sensitive than acidophilic bodies in assessing the degree of cell injury in the liver.


Virchows Arch. 1997 Sep;431(3):189-94.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Virchows Archiv : an international journal of pathology

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