Background. The deletion variant of hepatocyte growth factor (dHGF) exerts mitogenic and antifibrotic effects. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of dHGF on rats that had undergone syngeneic or allogeneic reduced-size (60%) orthotopic liver transplantation (ROLT). Methods. Starting immediately after the syngeneic (Lewis to Lewis) and allogeneic (Lewis to Brown Norway) ROLT, 500 μg/kg dHGF was administered i.v. twice a day until the day the rats were killed. Its effect on hepatic graft weight, regeneration, and biochemical parameters was evaluated. Results. dHGF promoted restoration of the liver volume and liver regeneration as well as protein synthesis in the rats that underwent syngeneic ROLT. In the rats that underwent allogeneic ROLT, dHGF reduced the level of serum cytosolic enzymes related to acute cellular rejection, but a significant improvement in liver regeneration and protein synthesis was not seen. When tacrolimus was administered to prevent rejection of the allogeneic grafts, the beneficial effect of dHGF was apparent, and was as beneficial as in syngeneic ROLT. Conclusions. Administering dHGF after liver transplantation augments the regeneration and functional recovery of partial liver grafts and reduces hepatocyte injury in acute cellular rejection.
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