Histology of gallbladder

Topic Completed: 1 September 2012

Minor changes: 20 September 2019

Copyright: 2003-2019,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Gallbladder histology[TIAB]

Hanni Gulwani, M.B.B.S.
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Cite this page: Gulwani H Histology of gallbladder. website. Accessed May 29th, 2020.
Definition / general
  • Has mucosa, muscularis propria and serosa on free surface
  • No muscularis mucosa or submucosa is present
  • Variable branching folds, more prominent if gallbladder not distended

Surface epithelium:
  • Composed of single layer of uniform, tall columnar cells with basal nuclei, indistinct nucleoli, pale cytoplasm due to sulfomucins
  • Few PAS+ apical vacuoles; also pencil cells (small, darkly staining columnar cells), inconspicuous basal epithelial cells, T lymphocytes
  • No goblet cells, myoepithelial cells or melanocytes
  • Neck region has tubuloalveolar mucus glands that secrete sulfo, sialo and neutral mucin and contain neuroendocrine cells
  • True glands are not present outside the neck

Lamina propria:
  • Loose connective tissue with blood vessels, lymphatics, occasional chronic inflammatory cells (IgA secreting plasma cells), no neutrophils

Muscular layer:
  • Circular, longitudinal and oblique smooth muscle fibers without distinct layers, resembles muscularis mucosa
  • Adjacent to lamina propria without an intervening submucosa

  • Perimuscular connective tissue composed of collagen, elastic tissue, fat, vessels, lymphatics, nerves, paraganglia

  • Lines gallbladder that is not directly attached to liver, is continuous with that of liver

Aberrant bile ducts (ducts of Luschka):
  • Present in 10% of cholecystectomy specimens, often buried in gallbladder wall adjacent to liver, may contain collar of fibrous tissue, may communicate with intrahepatic bile ducts
  • Histologically composed of lobular aggregates of small ductules lined by bland cuboidal to columnar biliary type epithelium (Am J Surg Pathol 2011;35:883)

Rokitansky-Aschoff sinuses:
  • Outpouchings of gallbladder mucosa that penetrate into muscle wall
  • May be acquired herniations

Larger accessory bile ducts:
  • Join with cystic or hepatic ducts, may be present within gallbladder bed

Mucin secreting accessory glands:
  • Prominent near terminus of common bile duct
Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on other servers:

Cross section

Positive stains
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