Hepatocyte nuclear vacuolation is considered benign and associated with non-alcohol-related fatty liver disease. Vacuolated hepatocyte nuclei were compared with non-vacuolated hepatocyte nuclei in eight patients with advanced fibrosis and a spectrum of liver disease to explore the hypothesis that such nuclei represent senescence. Age- and sex-matched liver donors served as normal tissue. In normal liver <0.01% hepatocytes showed nuclear vacuolation. In contrast, nuclear vacuolation was present in all patients with liver disease, ranging from 0.1% to 11.7% hepatocytes, irrespective of the aetiology of liver disease and independent of insulin resistance. There was a close association between nuclear vacuolation and increased nuclear area, p21 expression, γH2AX expression and the absence of Mcm-2, consistent with senescence and cell cycle arrest. Nuclear vacuolation in hepatocytes is a marker of senescence and likely to be a consequence of liver injury, unrelated to insulin resistance.
- Vacuolated nucleus senescence
- liver disease
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Funding The study was supported by the Hepatology Endowment Fund of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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