Caveolin-1 Plays Key Role in Liver Regeneration

Knockout mice show decreased lipid accumulation, survival after partial hepatectomy

TUESDAY, Sept. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Caveolin-1, a protein responsible for lipid droplet formation in hepatocytes, is essential for liver regeneration after traumatic injury, according to a report in the Sept. 15 issue of Science.

Manuel A. Fernandez, of the University of Barcelona in Spain, and colleagues subjected caveolin-1 knockout mice to partial hepatectomy to determine the role of protein in liver regeneration. Caveolin-1 has been shown to control cell activation, lipid metabolism and cell division, all essential components of liver regeneration.

The investigators found that only 22.5 percent of caveolin-null mice survived to three days after surgery compared to 89.1 percent of wild-type mice, with the knockout mice displaying a severe deficiency in hepatocyte proliferation, lipid accumulation and liver regeneration. Feeding caveolin-1 null mice with high glucose before and after surgery nearly restored liver regeneration capacity, "pinpointing the crucial role of caveolin-1 in lipid regulation during the regeneration process," the authors write.

"Clearly, the hepatocytes of caveolin-1 null mice display a major disruption in the utilization of circulating fatty acids," according to an editorial by Dawn Brasaemle of The State University of New Jersey in New Brunswick. Further experiments are necessary to determine caveolin's precise role in fatty acid uptake and metabolism, or if caveolin loss leads to defects in insulin signaling, she adds.

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