Mast cell density: A quantitative index of acute liver inflammation

Fabio Grizzi, Barbara Franceschini, Barbara Barbieri, Nicoletta Gagliano, Beatrice Arosio, Maurizio Chiriva-Internati, Giorgio Annoni, Nicola Dioguardi

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OBJECTIVE: To evaluate mast cell (MC) density, in liver tissues taken from young and aging rats treated with carbon tetrachloride (CCl 4) or untreated, as a quantitative marker of acute liver inflammation and to investigate whether the density of MCs varied with the rats' age. STUDY DESIGN: Rats aged 2, 6, 12 and 19 months treated intraperitoneally with CCl 4 were killed 2 and 24 hours after intoxication. Hepatocellular damage was established by measuring alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) activity. Four histologic sections of 12 specimens from each age group were stained with toluidine blue to identify the MCs, which were counted using a computer-assisted image analysis system. RESULTS: Histology showed hepatocellular necrosis with inflammatory infiltration both 2 and 24 hours after intoxication. Serum AST levels were high in the 6- and 12-month-old rats, whereas ALT levels were high in the those aged 2 and 19 months. Two and 24 hours after intoxication, MC density increased considerably in young rats but less so in rats aged 19 months. CONCLUSION: MC density can be a useful marker of acute liver inflammation. The greater density in young rats suggests that older rats have a reduced immune response or recruit fewer MCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-69
Number of pages7
JournalAnalytical and Quantitative Cytology and Histology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Image analysis, computer-assisted
  • Inflammation
  • Liver diseases
  • Mast cell density
  • Mast cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology

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    Grizzi, F., Franceschini, B., Barbieri, B., Gagliano, N., Arosio, B., Chiriva-Internati, M., Annoni, G., & Dioguardi, N. (2002). Mast cell density: A quantitative index of acute liver inflammation. Analytical and Quantitative Cytology and Histology, 24(2), 63-69.