Hepatic innervation in hepatic regeneration



The autonomic nervous system in rats has been assessed by means of indirect immunofluorescence using monospecific antibodies to neuron-specific enolase, neurofilaments, glial fibrillary acidic protein and S-100 protein [10 days after partial (70%) hepatectomy]. Different groups of rats were studied:

  • group A: 70% resection and normal dual blood supply (n = 5);

  • group B: 70% resection with only portal blood to the liver remnant (n = 5);

  • group C: 70% resection with only arterial blood to the liver remnant (n = 5);

  • group D: sham operated controls (n = 5).

All rats of groups A and D showed normal liver/body weight ratios after 10 days in contrast to groups B and C where liver weights were 50–60% of the preresection weight. In group A the regeneration process was histologically normal and associated with a remarkable increase of autonomic innervation patterns in the portal triad. In contrast, livers of animals in groups B and C showed under the light microscope features of hepatocyte degeneration associated with a decreased autonomic innervation compared to the controls. The changes are identical in groups B and C, and are therefore irrespective of the type of blood deprivation (arterial or portal).

These results support the importance of dual blood supply for an optimal regenerative response in liver remnants after liver resection. We suggest that the autonomic nerve supply of the portal triad plays at least an important permissive role in liver regeneration.