The localization of carbohydrates in rat livers with fibrosis induced by heterologous serum was examined by lectin histochemical and biochemical techniques. Twenty-four lectins were used to visualize the different carbohydrates in paraffin sections of normal and fibrotic liver tissues. No differences in staining patterns of these lectins were observed between normal and fibrotic livers in hepatocyte cell membranes including bile canaliculi, sinusoidal endothelial, or bile ductal cells. Kupffer cells strongly stained with Vicia villosa agglutinin (VVA) were seen only in the periportal zone of the normal liver, but they were observed in the periportal zone and scattered throughout the pseudolobular zone in the fibrotic liver. The cytoplasm of some hepatocytes was strongly stained by Bandeiraea simplicifolia lectin-I (BSL-I). BSL-I positive hepatocytes in normal liver were localized in the periportal zone, but those in the fibrotic liver were scattered in the periportal and perifibrous zones. After polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of liver glycoproteins, differences in molecular sizes of BSL-I positive glycoproteins (79 and 81 kD) were detected by lectin blotting. Cell density of perifibrous BSL-I positive hepatocytes may be useful as a diagnostic parameter for liver fibrosis and/or cirrhosis. Two distinct staining patterns with twelve lectins were observed in fibrotic septa of the fibrotic liver. The fibrotic septa were stained with six characteristic lectins, and the centrilobular septa were stained with all these twelve of lectins. Histopathological assessment of the centrilobular fibrotic septa stained with these characteristic lectins may contribute to the diagnosis and prognosis of hepatic fibrosis.
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