Intrahepatic Size Regulation in a Surgical Model: Liver Resection-Induced Liver Regeneration Counteracts the Local Atrophy following Simultaneous Portal Vein Ligation

Eur Surg Res. 2016;57(1-2):125-37. doi: 10.1159/000446875. Epub 2016 Jun 17.


Background/aim: Liver size regulation is based on the balance between hepatic regeneration and atrophy. To achieve a better understanding of intrahepatic size regulation, we explored the size regulation of a portally deprived liver lobe on a liver subjected to concurrent portal vein ligation (PVL) and partial hepatectomy (PHx).

Materials and methods: Using a surgical rat model consisting of right PVL (rPVL) plus 70% PHx, we evaluated the size regulation of liver lobes 1, 2, 3, and 7 days after the operation in terms of liver weight and hepatocyte proliferation. Portal hyperperfusion was confirmed by measuring portal flow. The portal vascular tree was visualized by injection of a contrast agent followed by CT imaging of explanted livers. Control groups consisted of 70% PHx, rPVL, and sham operation.

Results: The size of the ligated right lobe increased to 1.4-fold on postoperative day 7 when subjected to rPVL + 70% PHx. The right lobe increased to 3-fold when subjected to 70% PHx alone and decreased to 0.3-fold when subjected to rPVL only. The small but significant increase in liver weight after the combined procedure was accompanied by a low proliferative response. In contrast, hepatocyte proliferation was undetectable in the right lobe undergoing atrophy after PVL only. The caudate lobe in the rPVL + 70% PHx group increased to 4.6-fold, which is significantly more than in the other groups. This increase in liver weight was paralleled by persisting portal hyperperfusion and a prolonged proliferative phase of 3 days.

Conclusions: A discontinued portal blood supply does not always result in atrophy of the ligated lobe. The concurrent regenerative stimulus induced by 70% PHx seemed to counteract the local atrophy after a simultaneously performed rPVL, leading to a low but prolonged regenerative response of the portally deprived liver lobe. This observation supports the conclusion that portal flow is not necessary for liver regeneration. The persisting portal hyperperfusion may be crucial for the specific kinetics of prolonged liver regeneration after rPVL + 70% PHx in the portally supplied caudate lobe. Both observations deserve more attention regarding the underlying mechanism in further studies.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atrophy
  • Hepatectomy*
  • Ligation
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Liver Regeneration*
  • Male
  • Portal Vein / surgery*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew