Since the Greek myth about Prometheus’ torture and the first scientific documentation of the phenomenon of liver regeneration in the 19th century, scientists have extensively investigated this intriguing process in an attempt to unravel its mystery. Numerous molecules and pathways involved in regeneration of the liver have been revealed, however the exact underlying mechanisms are still not fully elucidated. Meanwhile, the extensive regenerative capacity of the liver has been used to benefit patients with (end-stage) liver disease, as it enables oncologic liver resections and living-donor cq. split liver transplantation. However, several factors like a patient’s age, life style, nutritional status, disease condition, degree of injury and medication, but probably also genetic predisposition, can interfere with and limit the process of regeneration, resulting in impaired liver function and compromised homeostasis. Better understanding of the factors influencing and regulating liver regeneration after injury, contributes to the investigation and development of potential therapeutic strategies to prevent liver dysfunction and promote regeneration, thereby decreasing subsequent patient morbidity and mortality. The first part of this thesis highlights molecular mechanisms and functional pathways involved in liver regeneration after resection and transplantation. Differences in gene expression profiles between living liver donors with successful and incomplete regeneration of their remnant liver suggest a possible inhibition or delay in initiation of regenerative pathways in the incompletely regenerating livers. Similar, pathways and networks involved in the development of early allograft dysfunction (EAD) show downregulation of metabolic capabilities and upregulation of pro-inflammatory molecules. We defined a diagnostic gene expression signature to detect liver grafts prone to develop EAD. Furthermore, we report that inhibition of the regulatory protein mTOR by the immunosuppressant rapamycin severely impairs liver regeneration and show that this process can be partly reversed by exogenous growth factor treatment. The second part provides evidence for the presence of mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (MSCs) in the adult human liver. These cells have phenotypic and functional characteristics similar to bone marrow MSCs and migrate from liver grafts at time of transplantation. MSC cultures were evaluated for the presence of aberrant cells, showing that spontaneous malignant transformation is rare and only occurs after long-term culture. Finally, the effects of MSC-secreted factors on liver regeneration after surgical resection with or without ischemia and reperfusion injury show that treatment with these factors is a promising new strategy to modulate and accelerate liver regeneration after surgical injury.

, , , , , , , , ,
The research was financially supported by the ASTS-ESOT Exchange Grant, The Astellas Trans(p)la(n)t(at)ional Research Prize, the National Institutes of Health through the National Insti-tute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (grants U01-DK-062494 and RO1 DK073192-02; K. Olthoff PI) and the Foundation for Liver and Gastrointestinal Research (SLO). The publication of this thesis was financially supported by the Dutch Society for Hepatology (Nederlandse Vereniging voor Hepatology, NVH) and the Dutch Transplant Society (Nederlandse Transplantatie Vereniging, NTV).
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam
H.W. Tilanus (Hugo)
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Fouraschen, S. M. G. (2013, September 26). Liver Regeneration after Resection and Transplantation: Mechanisms and Therapeutic Strategies
. Retrieved from