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Analytical Cellular Pathology
Volume 16, Issue 3, Pages 141-150

Comparative Quantitative Analysis of Macrophage Populations Defined by CD68 and Carbohydrate Antigens in Normal and Pathologically Altered Human Liver Tissue

Stephan E. Baldus, Thomas K. Zirbes, Ion-Corin Weidner, Uta Flucke, Elke Dittmar, Juergen Thiele, and Hans P. Dienes

Institute of Pathology, University of Cologne, Joseph-Stelzmann-Str. 9, 50924 Cologne, Germany

Received 24 July 1997; Accepted 26 February 1998

Copyright © 1998 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Liver macrophages, which are involved in the different types of hepatitis, may indirectly induce hepatic fibrogenesis, since they have the possibility to activate hepatic stellate cells and fibroblasts by secretion of TGF-β , TNF-α and IL-1. To evaluate variations of the number of liver macrophages and their subpopulations, a quantification was carried out in normal human liver tissue, fatty liver, fatty liver hepatitis and hepatitis B. Identification was performed by the mab PG-M1 (anti-CD68) and, comparatively, four lectins, Griffonia simplicifolia agglutinin I (GSA-I), Erythrina cristagalli agglutinin (ECA), peanut agglutinin (PNA) and soybean agglutinin (SBA). A slight decrease in the frequency of macrophages in pericentral fields was observable in fatty liver and fatty liver hepatitis as compared to normal liver tissue. On the other hand, the number of CD68+ cells was significantly enhanced in hepatitis B with moderate and severe inflammatory activity. The highest incidence of macrophages was found in portal tracts of liver with fatty liver hepatitis and, particularly, hepatitis B. The fraction of cells stained by ECA, PNA or SBA did not increase significantly under pathological conditions. In contrast, the percentage of GSA-I binding macrophages was higher in liver parenchyma of hepatitis B and in portal tract macrophages in fatty liver hepatitis and also hepatitis B. In conclusion, our results indicate that GSA-I may aid in the detection of the subpopulation of activated macrophages which are assumed to play a pivotal role in liver pathology.