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Keywords:

  • liver;
  • steatosis;
  • fibrosis;
  • cancer;
  • lipofuscin;
  • elderly cadavers

Abstract

The incidence of hepatic steatosis, fibrosis, and cancer in the elderly population remains unknown. Human cadavers used in anatomy teaching, which come largely from older adults, may provide liver tissue for examining their pathologies. Livers were obtained from 68 cadavers (mean age 82.1 ± 10.4 years) with diverse causes of death in the Anatomy course at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Paraffin sections were stained with hematoxylin and eosin and Sirius red and evaluated for steatosis, fibrosis, cancer, and lipofuscin. Tissue preservation was graded as good in 38.2% of the embalmed livers, fair in 36.7%, and poor in 25.0%. Steatosis was observed in 35.3% of the livers, central vein fibrosis in 49.2%, perisinusoidal fibrosis in 63.2%, portal tract (PT) fibrosis in 47.0%, septa formation in 44.1%, bridging fibrosis in 30.8%, and cirrhosis in 4.4%. One hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and six metastatic tumors were detected. Lobular inflammation occurred in 20.8% of the livers and PT inflammation in 38.8%. Nine livers showed minimal change. Lipofuscin was detected in 60.2% of the livers. Steatosis, fibrosis, and cancer are highly prevalent in elderly cadavers with diverse causes of death. The prevalence of steatosis and fibrosis is consistent with the data in patients with specific liver diseases. Steatosis alongside fibrosis can accelerate the progression of fibrosis to cirrhosis and ultimately HCC. Though not indicated as the primary cause of death, the liver injury may have compromised hepatic functions and enhanced disease susceptibility, thereby exacerbating the health conditions in this elderly population. Anat Rec, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.