Levels of bile 'tell' the liver how to regulate regeneration
When you’re just one small part of a vast team, it can be hard to gauge overall progress. That’s true whether you’re building a website, a skyscraper, or even a liver. Our liver is the only organ that can regenerate after injury or surgical removal – a handy trick for an organ that handles harmful toxins, and important for liver disease patients who have part of it removed. Keen to understand how this impressive growth is regulated to prevent individual cells producing perpetual expansion, researchers examined regrowing mouse livers (pictured at various times after a partial liver removal, with the expanding network of bile-transporting structures stained white). They discovered that the process uses levels of bile (the fat-digesting liquid produced by the liver) as an indicator of organ status, informing and activating cells accordingly to determine organ size – a skill that any future attempts at regenerative medicine will need to master.
Written by Anthony Lewis
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