Liver regenerates in a way which has surprised even scientists. It is only one of the few organs which can regrow from as little as 25% of its tissue. This process of regeneration may be simpler than thought.
The study which is published in The Journal of Biological chemistry, has enabled novel information on the goings-on in cells, the way they regenerate, which could have implications on the strategies employed by physicians to make livers re-grow in patients suffering chronic liver diseases- cirrhosis, hepatitis, or cancer.
Seth Karp, assistant professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, Boston, and main author of the study said, "The human liver is one of the few organs in the body that can regenerate from as little as 25 percent of its tissue. It is not known how the liver does it, but our results provide some details of what makes the liver so unique."
Despite knowing how organ regeneration takes place in many animals, the information at the level of the cell is still a mystery. Now, scientists have found out the proteins behind organ regeneration. This is especially useful in patients whose livers are damaged to a great extent.
In a study conducted on mice, the research team found the presence of two important proteins. Proteins called transcription factors, which affects the DNA in the cell's nucleus, had a greater involvement in the development of embryos' livers but did not have much of a role in adult liver regeneration. These findings proved that a regenerating liver does not portray the characteristics of a growing embryo. Instead, regeneration may actually be due to proliferation of cells due to cell division.
"These results are very encouraging," Karp says. "Not only did we discover that the number of proteins involved in liver regeneration is relatively low, but they don't include transcription factors, so we may be closer to being able to stimulate liver regeneration than we thought. We think that the liver regrows through a relatively simple process, which could explain its prodigious ability to repair itself."