Background: Studies on liver regeneration following partial hepatectomy (PH) have identified several microRNAs (miRNAs) that show a regulated expression pattern. These studies involve major surgery to access the liver, which is known to have intrinsic effects on hepatic gene expression and may also affect miRNA screening results. We performed two-third PH or sham laparotomy (SL) in Wistar rats to investigate the effect of both procedures on miRNA expression in liver tissue and corresponding plasma samples by microarray and qRT-PCR analyses. As control groups, non-treated rats and rats undergoing anesthesia only were used.
Results: We found that 49 out of 323 miRNAs (15%) were significantly deregulated after PH in liver tissue 12 to 48 hours postoperatively (>20% change), while 45 miRNAs (14%) were deregulated following SL. Out of these miRNAs, 10 miRNAs were similarly deregulated after PH and SL, while one miRNA showed opposite regulation. In plasma, miRNA upregulation was observed for miR-133a and miR-133b following PH and SL, whereas miR-100 and miR-466c were similarly downregulated following anesthesia and surgery.
Conclusions: We show that miRNAs are indeed regulated by sham laparotomy and anesthesia in rats. These findings illustrate the critical need for finding appropriate control groups in experimental surgery.