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Am J Pathol. 1998 Sep;153(3):955-61.

Transforming growth factor alpha levels in liver and blood correlate better than hepatocyte growth factor with hepatocyte proliferation during liver regeneration.

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First Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Japan.


Transforming growth factor alpha (TGFalpha) and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) are mitogens for hepatocytes in vitro and in vivo, produced by hepatocytes or nonparenchymal cells such as stellate cells in the liver. It is still uncertain whether TGFalpha and HGF are essential for liver regeneration. To assess the role of these growth factors in liver regeneration, their circulating and hepatic levels were studied in various rat models of liver regeneration. Hepatic and plasma HGF levels were increased with increased number of mitotic hepatocytes in rats after partial hepatectomy or carbon tetrachloride intoxication. However, hepatic HGF levels were decreased despite an increased number of mitotic hepatocytes and increased or unchanged plasma HGF levels in rats given phenobarbital and in rats after dimethylnitrosamine intoxication, which can induce hepatic necrosis after apoptosis of hepatic stellate cells. In contrast, hepatic and serum TGFalpha levels were increased in all of the models. In sham-operated rats with no increased number of mitotic hepatocytes, hepatic and circulating levels of HGF were increased, whereas those levels of TGFalpha were unchanged. The results indicate that TGFalpha levels in liver and blood more closely correlate with hepatocyte mitogenesis than HGF levels.

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