Background: Hepatic insufficiency, which continues to be a source of morbidity after portacaval shunt (PCS), can be prevented by syngeneic pancreatic islet transplantation into the portal vein before PCS. This study investigated the ability of syngeneic pancreatic islet transplantation after PCS to prevent hepatic atrophy and rescue hepatocellular function.
Methods: Approximately 1200 to 1400 syngeneic rat pancreatic islets were transplanted through a heparinized catheter into the left lobes of the liver 3, 7, and 21 days after end-to-side PCS. Normal rats received no treatment, and PCS control rats received PCS only, without islet transplantation. Hepatocellular function (caffeine clearance) and hepatic blood flow (indocyanine green clearance) were analyzed at 42 and 49 days after PCS. On day 51 after PCS, the left and right lobes of the liver were divided, weighed, and sectioned for histologic studies.
Results: Caffeine clearance in the animals at 3 days (p less than 0.05) and at 7 days (p less than 0.05) after end-to-side PCS was significantly improved versus control PCS animals, indicating that hepatocellular function could be rescued after creation of a PCS. Indocyanine green clearance of all groups with PCS was significantly (p less than 0.001) decreased versus normal animals, showing that hepatic blood flow was uniformly decreased by PCS in all groups. The weight of the transplanted left lobes was significantly greater than the untransplanted right lobes of the groups at 3 days (p less than 0.01) and at 7 days (p less than 0.05) after end-to-side PCS compared with control animals, indicating that liver atrophy was prevented in the islet-transplanted lobes but not in those lobes without a transplant.
Conclusions: Islet transplantation early after PCS can prevent liver atrophy and significantly improve hepatocellular function.