The expression of immunoreactive alpha interferon was examined in 78 liver biopsy specimens using an indirect immunoperoxidase technique. Biopsy specimens included cases of acute viral hepatitis, chronic active hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, large bile duct obstruction and normal liver. Kupffer cells were positive for alpha interferon in all cases. Hepatocytes were negative for alpha interferon in normal liver but in acute viral hepatitis were positive in perivenular and necrotic areas. Hepatocytes were positive in periportal areas, associated with piecemeal necrosis, in chronic active hepatitis and primary biliary cirrhosis, and were positive in perivenular areas in alcoholic hepatitis and large bile duct obstruction. The unexpected finding of alpha interferon in hepatocytes in non-viral liver disease indicates that the presence of this substance in liver cells cannot be taken as a specific marker of viral infection.
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