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Hepatology. 2011 Feb;53(2):577-86. doi: 10.1002/hep.24037. Epub 2011 Jan 4.

Effect of sorafenib on murine liver regeneration.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Research, University of Bern, Switzerland.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a common cause of cancer-related death. Sorafenib prolongs survival of patients with advanced disease and is approved for the systemic treatment of unresectable HCC. It possesses antiangiogenic and antiproliferative properties by way of inhibition of the receptor tyrosine kinases vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR-2) and platelet-derived growth factor receptor-beta 1/2 (PDGFR-β) and the kinase RAF. Sorafenib represents a candidate compound for adjuvant therapy in HCC patients. The aim of our study was to investigate whether sorafenib affects liver regeneration. C57BL6 mice received sorafenib orally at 30 mg/kg/day or its vehicle either for 14 days until the day before hepatectomy or starting the day after surgery or both. Animals were sacrificed 24, 72, and 120 hours after hepatectomy. Liver regeneration was calculated as a percent of initial liver weight. Bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation and phospho-extracellular signal-regulated kinase (pERK1/2) were determined by immunohistochemistry on liver sections. VEGF-A, PDGF-BB, and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) levels were measured in liver tissue homogenates. Histological analysis of scar tissue was performed. Treatment stopped 1 day before surgery had no impact on liver regeneration. Continuous sorafenib treatment and treatment started 1 day after surgery had statistically significant effects on liver regeneration at 120 hours compared to vehicle-treated control animals (72% ± 12 versus control 88% ± 15 and 70% ± 13 versus control 86% ± 5 at 120 hours, both P ≤ 0.02). BrdU incorporation showed decreased numbers of positive nuclei in both groups receiving sorafenib after surgery. Phospho-ERK levels were reduced in sorafenib-treated animals. An increase of VEGF-A levels was observed in mice receiving sorafenib. Wound-healing complications were observed in animals receiving sorafenib after surgery and confirmed on histological sections.


This preclinical study shows that sorafenib did not impact on liver regeneration when ceased before surgery; however, administration after hepatectomy affected late liver regeneration.

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