Autonomic nerve fibers in the liver are distributed along the portal tract, being involved in the regulation of blood flow, bile secretion and hepatic metabolism, thus contributing to systemic homeostasis. The present study investigated changes in hepatic nerve fibers in liver biopsy specimens from patients with normal liver, viral hepatitis and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, in relation to clinical background. The areal ratio of nerve fibers to the total portal area was automatically calculated for each sample. The nerve fiber areal ratios (NFAR) for total nerve fibers and sympathetic nerve fibers were significantly lower in liver affected by chronic hepatitis, particularly viral hepatitis, and this was also the case for advanced liver fibrosis. However, the degree of inflammatory activity did not affect NFAR for either whole nerves or sympathetic nerves. Comparison of samples obtained before and after antiviral treatment for HCV demonstrated recovery of NFAR along with improvement of liver fibrosis.
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