Human Liver Regeneration Is Characterized by the Coordinated Expression of Distinct MicroRNA Governing Cell Cycle Fate

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Abstract

In the absence of adequate compensatory regeneration, overwhelming liver damage can cause acute liver failure (ALF) and death without emergent liver transplantation (LT). Auxiliary LT produces satisfactory outcomes in this setting, with the prospect of native liver regeneration sustaining long-term survival. Since animal models only partially recapitulate human liver regeneration, we investigated the molecular mechanisms controlling it in this unique LT setting, as an exemplar of human liver regeneration. We demonstrate coordinated changes in expression of microRNA (miRNA) during regeneration that drive proliferation, innate immunity and angiogenesis. In contrast, failed regeneration in a similar cohort is associated with distinct miRNA enforcing cell cycle inhibition and DNA methylation. The miRNA expression associated with successful or failed regeneration when recapitulated in vitro, triggered expression of cardinal regeneration-linked genes promoting cell cycle entry or inhibition, respectively. Furthermore, inhibition of miRNA 150, 663 and 503, whose downregulation is associated with successful regeneration, induced cell proliferation which a key determinant of successful regeneration. Our data indicate that human liver regeneration may be orchestrated by distinct miRNA controlling key regeneration-linked processes including hepatocyte proliferation. To our knowledge this is the first characterization of molecular processes associated with human liver regeneration.

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