Background: Survivin regulates cell division and inhibits apoptosis. Liver regeneration is a complex process involving both proliferation and apoptosis. The role of survivin is not well elucidated and no data exist in humans.
Methods: Seventy per cent liver resection was used to investigate liver regeneration in rats. Survivin was identified by means of reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, Western blotting and immunohistochemistry. Proliferation and apoptosis were quantified. Liver biopsies from 33 patients who underwent living donor liver transplantation were used to study survivin immuno-expression, proliferation and apoptosis within the first 17 days after transplantation. Seven healthy donors served as controls.
Results: Survivin transcript and protein were significantly upregulated in rat hepatocytes after 24–72 h during regeneration and showed a significant correlation with proliferation but not with apoptosis. In humans, survivin was nearly absent in donor and reperfused liver tissue but increased significantly 5–7 days after transplantation and correlated with proliferation but not with apoptosis.
Conclusions: Survivin is upregulated in human and rodent liver regeneration and correlates with proliferation, suggesting an association of survivin and cell division.