Rats fed ethanol from 21 to 130 days were subjected to one or more episodes of hypoxia (6% O2) in order to determine if ethanol predisposed to centrilobular liver necrosis induced by hypoxia. Pair-fed control rats were fed the diet regimen in parallel with the ethanol-fed rats through an indwelling gastric cannula. The diet and ethanol were fed continuously 24 hr per day so as to maintain high blood alcohol levels in the ethanol-fed rats. Serum enzyme levels, SGOT and SGPT were measured before and after the hypoxic episodes as an indicator of centrilobular necrosis. Animal livers were studied for centrilobular necrosis by light and electron microscopy. Necrosis was documented to be present when flocculent densities were found in hepatocytic mitochondria or the plasma membrane permitted lanthanum entrance into the cell. The results showed that ethanol feeding to maintain high blood alcohol levels did increase the propensity of the liver to undergo centrilobular necrosis when the rats were subjected to hypoxia (1 hr 45 min to 5 hr 30 min). Centrilobular necrosis was observed in the ethanol-fed rats only. Serum enzyme levels (SGPT and SGOT) rose to very high levels in these rats when they were permitted to die of hypoxia. Serum sediment from the ethanol-fed rats contained numerous cell fragments and free organelles. Since the plasma membranes were missing along the sinusoidal face of centrilobular hepatocytes and microbodies were present, it was concluded that the cell fragments in the blood had originated from necrotic hepatocytes.
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