Quantitative assessment of the rat intrahepatic biliary system by three-dimensional reconstruction

Tatyana V. Masyuk, Erik L. Ritman, Nicholas F. LaRusso

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51 Scopus citations


The anatomical details of the biliary tree architecture of normal rats and rats in whom selective proliferation was induced by feeding α-naphthylisothiocyanate (ANIT) were reconstructed in three dimension using a microscopic-computed tomography scanner. The intrahepatic biliary tree was filled with a silicone polymer through the common bile duct and each liver lobe embedded in Bioplastic; specimens were then scanned by a microscopic-computed tomography scanner and modified Feldkamp cone beam back-projection algorithm applied to generate three-dimensional images. Quantitative analysis of bile duct geometry was performed using a customized software program. The diameter of the bile duct segments of normal and ANIT-fed rats progressively decreased with increasing length of the biliary tree. Diameter of bile ducts from ANIT-fed rats (range, 21 to 264 μm) was similar to that of normal rats (22 to 279 μm). In contrast, the number of bile duct segments along the major branch reproducibly doubled, the length of the bile duct segments decreased twofold, and the length of the biliary tree remained unchanged after ANIT feeding. Moreover, the total volume of the biliary tree of ANIT-fed rats was significantly greater (855 μl) than in normal rats (47 μl). Compared with normal rats, the total surface area of the biliary tree increased 26 times after ANIT-induced bile duct proliferation. Taken together, these observations quantitate the anatomical remodeling after selective cholangiocyte proliferation and strongly suggest that the proliferative process involves sprouting of new side branches. Our results may be relevant to the mechanisms by which ducts proliferate in response to hepatic injury and to the hypercholeresis that occurs after experimentally induced bile duct proliferation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2079-2088
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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