Mathematical model helps to distinguish between different hypotheses on liver size regulation

Two hypotheses about liver size regeneration are currently discussed in the scientific community: the hemodynamics- and the metabolic load hypotheses. How can one decide whether experimental data speaks in favor of one or the other hypothesis?

  • Scientists from the Virtual Liver Network developed a mathematical model that predicts the time course of liver size adaption after partial hepatectomy under each of the conjectured mechanisms.
  • They simulated the lobule growth after a 70% partial hepatectomy (depicted in the image as dashed red line) that is expected under the hemodynamics and metabolic load hypotheses. In addition, they predicted the response to other regenerative stimuli such as the occlusion of the portal vein (portal vein ligation, dashed blue line in the image) or short-term perturbations in the portal blood pressure or portal metabolic load (e.g. after a meal, solid blue line in the image) for each hypothesis. Comparing these theoretical predictions to experimental observations, they found that the existing data supports the metabolic load hypothesis.
  • On the basis of their theoretical investigations, they identified new experiments such as simultaneous partial hepatectomy and portal vein ligation that could help to contrast the conjectured mechanisms even further.
  • Author of text: Anja Voss-Böhme

  • Authors of Figure: Nadine Hohmann and Anja Voss-Böhme

  • Further Reading:
    How Does a Single Cell Know When the Liver Has Reached Its Correct Size?
  • Link to scientific data: 70% Partial Hepatectomy in the rat & Portal Vein Ligation


  • Mathematical model for liver size regulation
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