Chronic active liver disease: The range of histologic lesions, their response to treatment, and evolution

Archie H. Baggenstoss, Roger D. Soloway, W. H.J. Summerskill, Lila R. Elveback, Leslie J. Schoenfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Histologic study of serial biopsy specimens in a prospective, controlled, double blind, randomized trial of treatment involving 63 patients with predefined clinical and biochemical criteria of severe chronic active liver disease revealed five different histologic patterns of hepatic injury on initial biopsy: chronic persistent hepatitis, chronic aggressive hepatitis, subacute hepatitis with bridging, subacute hepatitis with multilobular necrosis, and cirrhosis. The initial biopsies in the fatal cases revealed cirrhosis, subacute hepatitis with multilobular necrosis, or subacute hepatitis with bridging. Patients with subacute hepatitis with bridging and with multilobular necrosis more frequently revealed stigmata of viral hepatitis and more frequently developed cirrhosis than chronic aggressive hepatitis, regardless of treatment. The severe forms of hepatitis more frequently remitted to the histologic features of chronic persistent hepatitis in patients treated with prednisone and a combination of prednisone and azathio-prine than with azathioprine or placebo alone. Serial biopsy specimens frequently revealed changes in the histologic pattern before remission to chronic persistent hepatitis. Histologic progression to cirrhosis may occur by bouts of intralobular and multilobular necrosis as well as by piecemeal necrosis. Sampling error in needle biopsy of cirrhosis is so great that the condition either may be missed or may be impossible to accurately classify into portal and postnecrotic cirrhosis. Observations at autopsy always revealed postnecrotic cirrhosis characterized by extensive parenchymal loss and incomplete regeneration. We conclude that the evolution of any lesion is influenced by at least two factors: the original histologic pattern and the therapy applied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-198
Number of pages16
JournalHuman Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1972
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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