Current knowledge of liver regeneration after reduced liver transplantation is limited. Warm ischemia is one component of the reduced liver transplantation procedure that could have an impact on the regenerative response. To study this effect, we performed partial hepatectomy on male Long-Evans rats, with animals divided into four groups: group 1 underwent partial hepatectomy only; group 2 underwent partial hepatectomy and 40 min of ischemia; group 3 underwent partial hepatectomy, 40 min of ischemia and portocaval shunt surgery; and group 4 underwent partial hepatectomy and orthotopic autograft surgery. Group 5 consisted of sham-operated animals. Animals were killed 4, 24, 48, 72 and 96 hr after surgery. Thymidine kinase activity, mitotic index, a liver mass index and ornithine decarboxylase levels were used as parameters of liver regeneration. Aspartate transaminase was recorded. Maximal thymidine kinase and mitotic index were observed in group 1 animals at 24 hr. In groups 2, 3 and 4 maximal thymidine kinase activity and mitotic activity were observed 24 hr later at 48 hr. The magnitude of the peak response in these groups appeared to correlate with the duration of portal venous occlusion, with greatest increases occurring in those groups where portal stasis was most prolonged. The increase in liver mass for these groups was also delayed with respect to group 1 animals. The anticipated peak in ornithine decarboxylase levels was seen at 4 hr in group 1. The ornithine decarboxylase response in the other groups was disorganized, with delay of the recorded peaks. Therefore surgical procedures involving warm hepatic ischemia result in a delay in the first wave of DNA synthesis and mitosis in regenerating rat liver. This delayed response may reflect the effects of denervation, stimulation of cytokine release or diversion of hepatocyte synthetic function toward essential protein synthesis at a time critical to the survival of the animal. (HEPATOLOGY 1993;17:273–279.)
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