Background: From the morphological appearance, it was impossible to distinguish terminal portal venules from small lymphatic vessels in the portal tract even using histochemical microscopic techniques. Recently, D2-40 was found to be expressed at a high level in lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs). This study was undertaken to elucidate hepatic lymphatic vessels during progression of cirrhosis by examining the expression of D2-40 in LECs.Methods: Surgical wedge biopsy specimens were obtained from non-cirrhotic portions of human livers (normal control) and from cirrhotic livers (LC) (Child A-LC and Child C-LC). Immunohistochemical (IHC), Western blot, and immunoelectron microscopic studies were conducted using D2-40 as markers for lymphatic vessels, as well as CD34 for capillary blood vessels.Results: Imunostaining of D2-40 produced a strong reaction in lymphatic vessels only, especially in Child C-LC. It was possible to distinguish the portal venules from the small lymphatic vessels using D-40. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed strong D2-40 expression along the luminal and abluminal portions of the cell membrane of LECs in Child C-LC tissue.Conclusion: It is possible to distinguish portal venules from small lymphatic vessels using D2-40 as marker. D2-40- labeling in lymphatic capillary endothelial cells is related to the degree of fibrosis in cirrhotic liver.
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