AIM To clarify the histological changes associated with liver atrophy after percutaneous transhepatic portal embolization (PTPE) in pigs and humans. METHODS As a preliminary study, we performed pathological examinations of liver specimens from five pigs that had undergone PTPE in a time-dependent model of liver atrophy. In specimens from embolized lobes (EMB) and nonembolized lobes (controls), we measured the portal vein to central vein distance (PV-CV), the area and number of hepatocytes per lobule, and apoptotic activity using the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nickend labeling assay. Immunohistochemical reactivities were evaluated for light chain 3 (LC3) and lysosomal-associated membrane protein 2 (LAMP2) as autophagy markers and for glutamine synthetase and cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1) as metabolic zonation markers. Samples from ten human livers taken 20-36 d after PTPE were similarly examined. RESULTS PV-CVs and lobule areas did not differ between EMB and controls at day 0, but were lower in EMB than in controls at weeks 2, 4, and 6 (P ≤ 0.001). Hepatocyte numbers were not significantly reduced in EMB at day 0 and week 2 but were reduced at weeks 4 and 6 (P ≤ 0.05). Apoptotic activity was higher in EMB than in controls at day 0 and week 4. LC3 and LAMP2 staining peaked in EMB at week 2, with no significant difference between EMB and controls at weeks 4 and 6. Glutamine synthetase and CYP2E1 zonation in EMB at weeks 2, 4, and 6 were narrower than those in controls. Human results were consistent with those of porcine specimens. CONCLUSION The mechanism of liver atrophy after PTPE has two histological phases: Hepatocellular atrophy is likely caused by autophagy in the first 2 wk and apoptosis thereafter.
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