Dynamic changes in liver plasma membrane fluidity caused by regeneration and atrophy were assessed in rats following portal branch ligation (PBL). The portal branch, which perfuses 70% of the liver, was ligated with 5-0 prolene, and liver plasma membranes were isolated by ultracentrifugation. The membrane fluorescence polarization was measured as an index of membrane fluidity using 1,6-diphenyl-1,3,5-hexatriene (DPH) as the probe dye. In nonligated lobes, a significant decrease in fluorescence polarization was observed 12 and 24 h after PBL (0.171 ± 0.004, p < 0.01 and 0.165 ± 0.005, p < 0.001, respectively) as compared to the controls (0.181 ± 0.002). The fluorescence polarization values then gradually returned to near control levels. In contrast, in the ligated lobes, the fluorescence polarization had increased by 12 hours after PBL (0.196 ± 0.002, p < 0.01), and remained significantly elevated (p < 0.01) for up to 1 week after PBL, gradually returning to control levels within 3 weeks. The membrane composition was also evaluated by analyzing the cholesterol/ phospholipid (C/P) ratio. A significant increase in the C/P ratio was detected in the ligated lobes 12 h and 3 days after PBL, but there was no significant difference in fluorescence polarization values between nonligated lobes and controls. These results suggest that alterations in membrane fluidity play an important role in the regenerative and atrophic processes of the liver following portal branch ligation.

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