March 11 : The liver may be the only organ in the human body that can regenerate. However, some patients who undergo a liver resection, a surgery that removes an infected portion of the organ may end up needing a transplant because the renewal process doesn’t always work.
Researchers from the New Michigan State University have shown that the blood clotting protein fibrinogen may hold the key as to why this happens.
Researchers have discovered that fibrinogen accumulates within the remaining liver quickly after surgery and sends signals to the platelets to act as first responders triggering the earliest phase of regeneration. But if fibrinogen or platelets are inhibited then the regeneration process may be delayed.
Platelets are blood cells that help form clots and stop bleeding. When the platelets receive information from fibrinogen, they go into action and accumulate in the remaining part of the liver to help restore it, increasing the chances of a fully functional liver and thereby a successful recovery.
Researchers used samples from patients undergoing liver resection and a comparable model in mice. The lead researcher and his team observed that when fibrinogen was low, the number of platelets in the liver decreased.
This proved that fibrinogen deposits were extremely important and had a direct impact on regeneration in both mice and humans. The results also further demonstrated that fibrinogen levels could be a predictive marker for doctors too.
Researchers say that, measuring this particular protein in liver resection could help them better determine in advance whether the organ would regenerate successfully or if in some cases it would become dysfunctional.
This could lead to new treatments that would assist doctors to correct low levels of the protein by using fibrinogen concentrates that can be administered to the patients during surgery
According to researchers this kind of treatment hasn’t been attempted in liver resection patients yet. But once they have found out exactly how fibrinogen works in the regeneration process and have tested potential therapies in mice, it could eventually provide the proof that they require to bring the work into clinical trials and thus improve patient outcomes.
Source : https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2019/blood-holds-key-to-liver-regeneration/