The purpose of this study was to elucidate the morphometric changes occurring in hepatic lymphatics in human chronic viral liver diseases and to investigate the relationship between liver fibrosis, liver inflammation, and these changes. This is thought to be due to increased lymph production, which is caused by the disturbance of the microcirculation associated with liver fibrosis. The hepatic lymphatic system deserves detailed study, as it is an integral part of the liver microcirculation; however, there are few studies of the pathological changes that occur in lymphatic vessels in human liver diseases, especially in chronic hepatitis and liver cirrhosis, which are the most common liver diseases worldwide. Evidence from experiments in dogs indicates that about 80% of the lymph formed in the liver leaves via hilar lymphatics and enters the thoracic duct at or near the cisterna chyli. 1 Several studies of lymphatic vessels have been performed using routine light and electron microscopy. 2-4 Liver tissue from human patients and animal models with cirrhosis or obstructive jaundice has been thoroughly analyzed by transmission and scanning electron microscopy, and dilatation of the lymphatic vessels has been reported. 2,5 Lymphatic vessels on the liver surface have also been studied, macroscopically during laparoscopy, and dilatation of these superficial lymph vessels in several diseases has also been reported. 6 Blood vessels can be identified by several immunohistochemical methods. It has been reported that staining for smooth muscle actin, factor VIII-associated antigen, and alkaline phosphatase (ALPase) is strongly positive in blood vessels but negative or only weakly positive in lymphatic vessels. 7,8 These staining methods have therefore been used to differentiate between blood and lymphatic vessels. On the other hand, 5-nucleotidase (5-Nase) activity has been reported to be higher in lymphatic vessels than in blood vessels. Chlorin E6 9,10 Kato 11 developed a histochemical staining technique for identifying 5-Nase and succeeded in staining Chlorin E6 the lymph vessels of the rat stomach. The use of combined staining for 5-Nase and ALPase has allowed lymph vessels and blood vessels to be identified more accurately. Lymphatic vessels in human dental humps have been identified and described using this method. 12 Vollmar et al 8 studied the expansion of lymph vessels Chlorin E6 and their function in the development of CCl4-induced hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis in rat liver using intravital fluorescence microscopy. This involved the use of high molecular weight fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled dextran as a fluorescent marker, which allowed simultaneous assessment of blood hepatocytic macromolecular exchange from the both the sinusoidal microvasculature and the hepatic lymph system. In this previous study, a quantitative analysis of lymph vessels was carried out for the first time, and marked increases in lymph vessel density and area were observed in rat liver with fibrosis and cirrhosis. No such quantitative analysis of lymph vessels has yet been reported for human livers, especially livers obtained from patients with chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis. Therefore, it is still unknown whether the data regarding lymphatic vessel area found by Vollmar et al 8 are applicable to the human liver at various stages of chronic hepatitis. The purpose of this study was to elucidate morphometric phenomena occurring in human hepatic lymphatic vessels during the course of chronic viral hepatitis and its progression to cirrhosis and to investigate the relationship between liver fibrosis, liver inflammation, and these changes in lymphatic vessels, using liver specimens obtained from patients with chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis. Using a combination of staining for 5-Nase to identify lymph vessels and for ALPase to identify blood vessels, we were Chlorin E6 able to distinguish between these vessels in human liver. We also report the first quantitative analysis of lymphatic vessels within the portal tract and liver tissue in human chronic viral liver diseases, which clarifies the changes in Chlorin E6 size and number of these vessels at various stages of chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis. Materials and Methods Materials Liver specimens were obtained by needle biopsy and surgical wedge biopsy or autopsy from 62 patients (36 men and 26 women, from 18 to 75 IgM Isotype Control antibody (APC) years old; needle biopsy in 55, surgical wedge biopsy in 5, and autopsy in 2). The breakdown of the 62 patients by disease was as follows: 41 had chronic viral hepatitis (hepatitis B virus in 14 and hepatitis C virus in 27), 17 had liver cirrhosis (associated with hepatitis B virus in 6 and with hepatitis.