Background: Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) plays a key role in the regulation of liver regeneration after hepatocyte damage. Changes in HGF production reflect the status of the regeneration process.
Methods: Serum concentrations of HGF and energy substrates were measured during and after liver transplantation in 30 recipients.
Results: In the patients with compromised grafts (group A) HGF concentrations were persistently high after reperfusion, whereas in the patients with well-functioning grafts (group B), HGF concentrations decreased rapidly and remained low 4 hours after reperfusion. The patients in group A who died had persistently high concentrations of HGF. The surviving patients with reversible primary graft dysfunction in group A exhibited low concentrations 48 hours after reperfusion. The decrease in HGF concentration preceded the decrease in aspartate aminotransferase concentration. The metabolic parameters that reflect carbohydrate metabolism by the graft paralleled the changes in HGF.
Conclusions: HGF may be more sensitive and specific in predicting early graft function than prothrombin time, ratio, aspartate aminotransferase, or arterial ketone body ratio. The determination of HGF levels after liver transplantation may yield valuable information for evaluating early graft function and making an early decision to repeat a graft procedure in an acutely ill patient.