Ultrastructural Changes in the Liver of Intravenous Heroin Addicts
The ultrastructural research has a decisive role in gathering the knowledge on the liver’s response to the influence of some drugs. The aim of the study was to perform an ultrastructurai analysis of the liver in chronic intravenous heroin addicts.
The study involved the autopsy conducted on 40 bodies of intravenous heroin addicts and 10 control autopsies. The liver tissue was fixed in glutaraldehyde and moulded with epon for investigation purposes of ultrastructural changes. The analysis was performed using the method of transmission electron microscopy.
In the group of intravenous heroin addicts, the liver autopsy samples showed degenerative vesicular and fat changes, chronic active and persistent hepatitis, cirrhosis, reduction in the amount of glycogen in hepatocytes, as well as the Kupffer cell’s dominant hypertrophy. Various changes occur in organelles, plasma membrane of hepatocytes and biliary channels as well as in the nucleus.
The most important ultrastructural findings include: hyperplasia and hypertrophy of the smooth endoplasmic reticulum, which is histologically proven vesicular degeneration of hepatocyte occurring as a result of the increased synthesis of enzymes of smooth endoplasmic reticulum due to chronic intravenous heroin intake, and the presence of continuous basal membrane followed by transformation of the sinusoids into capillaries (in the cases of chronic active hepatitis and cirrhosis) which leads to a disorder of microcirculation and further progress of cirrhosis.