The two papers in this issue of HEPATOLOGY (1, 2) dealing with hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) underscore the increasing importance of this novel growth factor in relation to hepatic growth biology. The emerging literature has already established HGF as a growth factor with potential importance not only for the liver but for other tissues such as the kidney, placenta, brain, lung, pancreas and hemopoietic tissues. This editorial will attempt to correlate the findings of the two HGF papers presented in this issue of HEPATOLOGY, summarize the existing literature on HGF and provide a synthetic overview for its role in the liver and other tissues. Several specific features already described set HGF aside in comparison with other growth factors in terms of structure and function.
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