Background: The aim of this study was to investigate telomere length in hepatocytes as a biomarker for liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy (PH) in rats. Materials and Methods: Sixty male Wistar rats underwent a 70% PH. One-month-old rats were assigned to group Y (n = 30) and 4-month-old rats were assigned to group O (n = 30). The rats were euthanized, and their livers were then harvested at postoperative day (POD) 1, 2, 3, 4, or 7. Telomere lengths and established parameters for liver regeneration (residual liver weight and levels of proliferating cell nuclear antigen [PCNA], Ki67, and interleukin [IL]-6) were measured. Results: We observed a significant increase in residual liver weight in group Y compared to that in group O (p = 0.001). The levels of Ki67 (p = 0.016), PCNA (p < 0.0001), and IL-6 (p < 0.001) were significantly higher in group Y. Furthermore, the rats in group Y had significantly earlier peak values of Ki67 and PCNA. Telomeres were significantly longer at the time of PH in group Y (p = 0.001). We showed a correlation between telomere length at the day of PH and liver regeneration. Animals with longer telomeres at the time of PH had better liver regeneration (p = 0.015). In group Y, animals with increased liver regeneration (median cut-off: > 122%) did not show any significant difference in telomere length (p = 0.587) compared to rats with regular regeneration (< 122%). However, in the older animals, rats with increased regeneration had significantly longer telomeres (p = 0.019) than rats with regular regeneration. Conclusion: Telomere length in rat hepatocytes depends on age, and animals with long telomeres had earlier and better regeneration of healthy liver tissue than rats with short telomeres. Our data confirms that telomere length in rat hepatocytes could be used as a possible predictive marker for liver regeneration, and could help to identify older individuals with a high capacity for hepatic regeneration.

Robert Koch Institut Zentrum für Krebsregisterdaten: Neue Daten zu Krebs in Deutschland. 2015.
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