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Compr Physiol. 2013 Jan;3(1):485-513. doi: 10.1002/cphy.c120014.

Principles of liver regeneration and growth homeostasis.

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Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.


Liver regeneration is perhaps the most studied example of compensatory growth aimed to replace loss of tissue in an organ. Hepatocytes, the main functional cells of the liver, manage to proliferate to restore mass and to simultaneously deliver all functions hepatic functions necessary to maintain body homeostasis. They are the first cells to respond to regenerative stimuli triggered by mitogenic growth factor receptors MET (the hepatocyte growth factor receptor] and epidermal growth factor receptor and complemented by auxiliary mitogenic signals induced by other cytokines. Termination of liver regeneration is a complex process affected by integrin mediated signaling and it restores the organ to its original mass as determined by the needs of the body (hepatostat function). When hepatocytes cannot proliferate, progenitor cells derived from the biliary epithelium transdifferentiate to restore the hepatocyte compartment. In a reverse situation, hepatocytes can also transdifferentiate to restore the biliary compartment. Several hormones and xenobiotics alter the hepatostat directly and induce an increase in liver to body weight ratio (augmentative hepatomegaly). The complex challenges of the liver toward body homeostasis are thus always preserved by complex but unfailing responses involving orchestrated signaling and affecting growth and differentiation of all hepatic cell types.

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