Orthotopic liver transplantation was performed in 60 recipient rats weighing 200 to 250 gm. Sixty rats of the same strain were used as liver donors, 30 weighing 100 to 140 gm (small for size) and the other 30 weighing 200 to 250 gm (same size). After 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 14 days (n = 5 each) DNA synthesis, nuclear thymidine labeling and mitoses were increased in both the small‐for‐size and same‐size groups, but significantly more in the former. These changes were maximal after 48 to 72 hr, similar to but later than the well‐known regeneration response after partial hepatectomy, which peaks at 24 hr in rats. Indirect indexes of regeneration of the transplanted livers also were measured: plasma or serum ornithine decarboxylase; insulin and glucagon serum levels; estradiol and testosterone serum levels (and their nuclear and cytosolic receptors); and transforming growth factor‐ß, c‐Ha‐ras and c‐jun mRNA expressions. With the small‐for‐size transplantation, these followed the same delayed pattern as the direct regeneration parameters. The small livers gradually increased in size over the course of 1 to 2 wk and achieved a volume equal to that of the liver originally present in the recipient. In contrast, no significant liver weight gain occurred in the transplanted livers from same‐size donors despite the evidence of regeneration by direct indexes, but not by most of the surrogate parameters, including ornithine decarboxylase. (Hepatology 1993;19:210–216).
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