Objective: To determine the role of the microvascular endothelium in the regulation of regenerating liver mass after partial hepatectomy.
Summary background data: Angiogenesis is critical for both pathologic and physiologic processes. The ability of certain tissues, such as the liver, kidney, and spleen, to regenerate after injury is poorly understood. The liver will regenerate to its normal mass within 8 days of surgical excision. Because the authors have previously shown that the endothelial cell regulates tumor mass, we hypothesized that normal adult organ mass is also controlled by the endothelial cell.
Methods: Two-thirds partial hepatectomy was performed in 7- to 8-week-old C57 BL/6 mice, followed by systemic treatment with either the angiogenesis stimulator basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) (1 microg/g/d intraperitoneal) or the angiogenesis inhibitor TNP-470 (30 mg/kg/qod subcutaneous). Groups of three mice were then euthanized on postoperative days 2, 4, 6, and 8, and the livers were weighed and analyzed by immunohistochemistry.
Results: bFGF accelerated hepatic regeneration by 42%, 19%, 16%, and 16% on postoperative days 2, 4, 6, and 8, respectively. TNP-470 inhibited hepatic regeneration by 46%, 74%, 67%, and 64% on postoperative days 2, 4, 6, and 8, respectively. Immunohistochemistry revealed that bFGF and TNP-470 primarily affected the endothelial compartment. Specifically, bFGF increased endothelial proliferation and decreased endothelial apoptosis. TNP-470, in contrast, inhibited endothelial cell proliferation. The cessation of the regenerative process correlated with a decrease in endothelial proliferation and an increase in endothelial apoptosis.
Conclusions: The systemic administration of angiogenesis agents modulates the regeneration of hepatic mass primarily by affecting endothelial cell proliferation or apoptosis. Endothelial cell apoptosis is associated with the cessation of the regenerative process in control mice. These results suggest that the endothelial cell is one of the key mediators of regenerating adult tissue mass in this partial hepatectomy model.