The liver is one of the most important human organs. It is essential for metabolism, blood detoxification and the functioning of the immune system. Moreover, the liver is the only organ which can fully regenerate its cell mass within a few weeks after more than half of the organ has been removed. The researchers led by Professor Eckhard Lammert have discovered that it is due to increased blood flow and subsequent dilation of the liver vasculature that the liver receives signals for growth. The signals come from the cells of the blood vessels that react to the mechanical stimulation. The publication is based on the findings published in 2001 that blood vessels affect organs in their function and growth (Lammert et al., Science 2001).
“In our study of the liver and its blood vessels, we identified an important trigger for organ growth. For the first time, we were able to show that blood flow and vasodilatation release growth-promoting signals from blood vessels,” said Professor Eckhard Lammert, director of the Institute for Beta Cell Biology at the German Diabetes Center (DDZ) and head of the Institute for Metabolic Physiology at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf. “In the future, these exciting results could also become important for the understanding and treatment of fatty liver disease in obesity and diabetes,” added Professor Michael Roden, scientific director and board member of the German Diabetes Center and director of the Department of Endocrinology and Diabetology at Düsseldorf University Hospital.
Nature 2018; 562, 128-132