Background & AimsIn addition to their function in thrombosis and haemostasis, platelets play an important role in the stimulation of liver regeneration. It has been suggested that platelets deliver mitogenic cargo to the regenerating liver, and accumulation of platelets in the regenerating liver has been demonstrated. We studied kinetics of platelet influx in the regenerating liver and investigated the signal that initiates platelet influx.
MethodsWe visualized platelets in the liver remnant after partial hepatectomy in mice using intravital microscopy and assessed liver regeneration by examination of liver/body weight ratio and the number of proliferating hepatocytes examined by immunohistochemistry.
ResultsWe demonstrated rapid but transient platelet influx into the liver remnant after a partial liver resection. Liver regeneration in thrombocytopenic mice was substantially impaired as evidenced by a reduced liver-to-body weight ratio and decreased numbers of proliferating hepatocytes at day 3 compared to mice with normal platelet counts. In contrast, liver regeneration was only mildly impaired when thrombocytopaenia was induced 2hours after partial liver resection. Platelet influx into the liver remnant was virtually absent in the presence of an antibody to von Willebrand factor (VWF) suggesting that VWF release from liver sinusoidal endothelial cells mediates platelet influx. Additionally, liver regeneration in mice deficient in VWF was markedly impaired.
ConclusionsA rapid but transient VWF-dependent platelet influx into the liver remnant drives platelet-mediated liver regeneration.