Objective: Proliferation of alveolar type II cells is thought to be critical for the restoration of lung function after diffuse alveolar damage or pneumonectomy. However, the factors that regulate alveolar type II cell proliferation, and the mechanism that brings about compensatory lung growth are not well understood. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) has been shown to have hepatotrophic and nephrotrophic functions for regeneration of the liver and kidney. We have attempted to investigate the involvement of HGF in lung regeneration after lung resection.
Design: A prospective, controlled study.
Setting: Adult surgical patients in a university hospital.
Patients and measurements: We measured serum HGF levels in eight patients undergoing major lung resection, and in five patients undergoing mastectomy as controls, by using radioimmunoassay and an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
Results: In all cases of pneumonectomy, the serum HGF levels increased 3- to 5-fold at 1-3 days (with a peak at 3 days) after operation, and then decreased to nearly basal levels in 2 weeks. However, these levels in patients undergoing mastectomy did not change much over the first 2 weeks, postoperatively.
Conclusions: Serum HGF levels increased in patients after major lung resection, which suggests that HGF might play an important role in lung regeneration or compensatory lung growth in humans.