The rat is a frequently used experimental model in studies involving human disease. We review several methods of inducing hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis in rats. These include induction by hepatotoxins and hepatocarcinogens such as carbon tetrachloride, dimethylnitrosamine, thioacetamide and furan; the hepatoxin-cum-nutrient, alcohol; a high fat-low choline-low protein diet; immunologic agents such as heterologous serum or bacterial cell wall products; and obstructive jaundice and biliary cirrhosis by common bile duct ligation.
Hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver are complex diseases which, in man, may be caused by such varied factors as alcohol, hepatitis, schistosomiasis, biliary atresia, malnutrition and exposure to carcinogens and hepatotoxins. Although hepatic fibrosis is characterised by the massive deposition of extracellular matrix components in the liver which causes a distinctive pathology, there are also differences which depend on the aetiologic factor causing the disease.
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