The hagfish liver was histochemically examined with special attention to biliary structures around the portal veins. Hepatocytes were organized into tubular structures surrounded by sinusoids. Biliary ductule structures, which resemble the ductal plates transiently appearing in mammalian liver development, were observed around the portal veins, but they did not appear around central veins. Thus, the hagfish liver demonstrates the same basic structure as the mammalian liver; that is, a vascular system from portal to central veins via sinusoids, and portal triad structures consisting of portal veins, hepatic arteries, and intrahepatic bile ducts. The epithelial cells of the ductal platelike structures strongly expressed cytokeratin, had some lectin-binding sites, and were delineated by the basal lamina, which was reactive for periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) staining and Iectin histochemistry. The lumina of the ductal plate-like structures were comparatively small and heterogeneous in diameter around the portal veins, suggesting that the biliary structures may not be efficient for bile secretion. The epithelial cells of the gall bladder had a simple columnar shape and were a PAS-positive cytoplasm. Those of bile ducts near the hilus, including extrahepatic and hepatic ducts, were simple columnar or cuboidal cells, and had large lumina. The cytoplasm in these cells was PAS-positive. These phenotypes with the expression of lectin-binding sites were clearly different from those of the ductal plate-like structures in the liver proper, suggesting that the extrahepatic and intrahepatic biliary structures may have different developmental origins.
Vol. 29 • No. 7
Vol. 29 • No. 7