The liver is resilient. Surgeons removing a tumor, for example, can cut out as much as two-thirds of the liver, and the organ will rapidly grow back to its original size. A sugar-laden protein called stem cell factor (SCF) drives this remarkable regeneration, according to a new study.
The protein has long been known to trigger the proliferation and maturation of bone marrow cells that produce white and red blood cells. Yet there have been an increasing number of hints that SCF influences a wider range of tissues. Several research teams have recently documented the presence of SCF or the activity of its gene in the liver, for example.
Lisa Colletti of the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor and her colleagues now report that there is a surprisingly large supply of SCF in the livers of mice. The investigators also demonstrated that the removal of 70 percent of a mouse's liver, a surgical procedure known as a partial hepatectomy, produces a dramatic drop in