Liver hypertrophy: a review of adaptive (adverse and non-adverse) changes--conclusions from the 3rd International ESTP Expert Workshop

Toxicol Pathol. 2012 Oct;40(7):971-94. doi: 10.1177/0192623312448935. Epub 2012 Jun 21.


Preclinical toxicity studies have demonstrated that exposure of laboratory animals to liver enzyme inducers during preclinical safety assessment results in a signature of toxicological changes characterized by an increase in liver weight, hepatocellular hypertrophy, cell proliferation, and, frequently in long-term (life-time) studies, hepatocarcinogenesis. Recent advances over the last decade have revealed that for many xenobiotics, these changes may be induced through a common mechanism of action involving activation of the nuclear hormone receptors CAR, PXR, or PPARα. The generation of genetically engineered mice that express altered versions of these nuclear hormone receptors, together with other avenues of investigation, have now demonstrated that sensitivity to many of these effects is rodent-specific. These data are consistent with the available epidemiological and empirical human evidence and lend support to the scientific opinion that these changes have little relevance to man. The ESTP therefore convened an international panel of experts to debate the evidence in order to more clearly define for toxicologic pathologists what is considered adverse in the context of hepatocellular hypertrophy. The results of this workshop concluded that hepatomegaly as a consequence of hepatocellular hypertrophy without histologic or clinical pathology alterations indicative of liver toxicity was considered an adaptive and a non-adverse reaction. This conclusion should normally be reached by an integrative weight of evidence approach.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / drug effects*
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Animals
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / etiology*
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / metabolism
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / pathology
  • Congresses as Topic
  • Hepatomegaly / chemically induced*
  • Hepatomegaly / metabolism
  • Hepatomegaly / pathology
  • Humans
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Diseases / metabolism
  • Liver Diseases / pathology
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Mice
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / drug effects
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism
  • Xenobiotics / toxicity*


  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Xenobiotics