Influence of continuous interleukin-2 administration via the portal vein on liver regeneration following partial hepatectomy in rats

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Abstract

We have reported the efficacy of intraarterial-combined immunochemotherapy including interleukin-2 (IL-2) for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). To further test this therapy for prevention of intrahepatic recurrence after hepatectomy, the influence of IL-2 on liver regeneration was examined using mitotic index (MI) and the bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) labeling index (LI) in 70% hepatectomized Donryu rats. In addition, gap junction appearance, which may change during liver regeneration, was analyzed using a monoclonal antibody (HAM8). Serum albumin, alanine transaminase, and total bilirubin (TB) levels were also evaluated. IL-2 (45,000 Japanese reference units [JRU]/d) or saline was administered continuously via the portal vein immediately after hepatectomy using an infusion pump. We also examined the influence of IL-2 on liver regeneration after hepatectomy with splenectomy. No difference in the weight of the liver, serum albumin, alanine transaminase, or TB was observed in any groups at 1, 2, or 4 days after hepatectomy. Neither IL-2 nor splenectomy influenced MI and BrdU LI at all three points. Gap junctions began to disappear after hepatectomy and reached a minimum on day 2 in all groups. Four days after hepatectomy, the density of the reappearing gap junctions was markedly lower in groups treated with IL-2 than in those receiving saline with or without splenectomy. However, the density returned to close to preoperative levels 6 days after hepatectomy in all groups. Continuous portal infusion of IL-2 transiently disturbed gap junction reappearance during liver regeneration. However, no other parameters of liver regeneration or liver functions differed. These results suggest that the liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy may be suppressed by the administration of IL-2, even though the suppression may not be harmful for overall recovery of the resected liver. However, it seems that hepatic IL-2 administration can be performed without serious complications after hepatectomy.

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