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Surgical biopsy specimens obtained from 50 patients with secondary cholangitis caused by obstruction of the common bile duct were studied immunohistochemically. Data on the number and ultrastructural appearances of mast cells positive for tryptase, chymase, vasointestinal polypeptide (VIP), and substance P (SP) were obtained. The bile ducts from patients presenting combined chronic exacerbated cholangitis and chronic sclerotic cholangitis showed significantly higher numbers of mast cell types compared to the controls (P < 0.0001). Cases with sclerotic cholangitis alone had significantly lower number of cells than patients with chronic exacerbated cholangitis alone (P ≤ 0.0001). Morphometric measurements of electron micrographs showed that mast cell granules containing VIP, SP and chymase were commensurable in size. Electron-lucent granules without reaction product (altered granules) and granules with focal distribution of the reaction product were observed in all types of mast cells. Furthermore, some nerve fibers positive for SP and VIP and serotonin-positive endocrine cells were observed in close proximity to the mast cells. In conclusion, the results of our study demonstrate the existence of different populations of mast cells, nerve structures and endocrine cells in the lower part of the human large bile duct, and suggest their participation in the development of pathological processes.