Click anywhere on this image to view the micrograph without labels.
At first glance, the liver appears like a rather unorganized mass of cells. But with a little care, one can detect the lobular organization of this tissue.
To visualize the lobules, first locate several portal areas (outlined in solid white above). These are readily recognizable as small patches of connective tissue, each containing a bile duct, a large vein, and a small artery. (View a portal area.) Lobule boundaries may be drawn (dashed white lines) from one portal area to another.
Then look for central veins (white arrows). These are conspicuous spaces with no associated connective tissue, located roughly midway between portal areas. The central veins mark the centers of lobules. (View a central vein.)
Lobules appear much more clearly in pig liver, which has an envelope of fibrous connective tissue around each lobule. (This tough connective tissue is one reason why pig liver, unlike calf liver or chicken liver, is not a popular menu item.)
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Last updated: 25 January 2002 / dgk