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International research team discovers new system of liver regeneration

August 28, 12:01 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Researchers believe that the recovery capability of such a mechanism might be higher than the normal way of regeneration by using hepatocytes

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© Valeriy Matytsin/TASS

MOSCOW, August 28. /TASS/. Researchers from Scotland, the US, and Russia have demonstrated that cells of intrahepatic bile ducts are involved in liver regeneration, the Skoltech press office said. The discovery by scientists from the Center for Regenerative Medicine in Edinburgh, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology will help in fighting liver diseases, for example, with granular induration.

"The study’s data might assist in developing new methods of liver regeneration," stated in the scientific paper recently published in the journal Nature.

The cells of the liver - hepatocytes - are capable of self-regenerating, but in practice, it fails to develop fast enough thereby causing new cells to age. This motivated researchers to look for other cells which may replace stem cells in the liver and could repair its tissues.

In their quest for such alternatives, scientists looked into the cells of intrahepatic bile ducts - cholangiocytes. They conducted experiments with laboratory rodents where they first initiated liver damage and then observed the regeneration process. The mice that took part in the experiment were genetically modified in such a way that their hepatocyte genes were switched off. Normally, these genes are responsible for cells fission, but in this experiment, they could not cause liver regeneration.

It turned out that liver tissues can nonetheless repair themselves. By tracking the origin of cells which occupied the damaged areas of an organ, the scientists ascertained that this is cholangiocytes which emerged from bile ducts and turned into liver cells replacing the "damaged" hepatocytes.

Researchers believe that the recovery capability of such a mechanism might be higher than the normal way of regeneration by using hepatocytes. Now, the researchers would like to master the recovery process of human liver damaged by granular induration by implanting the patient’s own cholangiocytes.

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