A hundred years of the hepatotrophic controversy.

T. E. Starzl, K. A. Porter, J. A. Francavilla, J. Benichou, C. W. Putnam

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28 Scopus citations


Venous blood returning from the splanchnic viscera has liver-supporting (hepatotrophic) qualities not found to the same degree in other kinds of arterial or venous blood. The effects of portal blood have been noted in animals with two livers (or a differential portal blood supply to different regions of one liver) to include hypertrophy, glycogen storage, hyperplasia, capacity for regeneration, increase of several synthetic functions, and maintenance of normal structure. The main splanchnic venous hepatotrophic factors are endogenous hormones of which the single most important is insulin. Thus, the foregoing portal hepatotrophic effects are largely eliminated with the diabetes produced by alloxan or total pancreatectomy. The injury of portacaval shunt is caused by the diversion of the hormones around the liver. Accordingly, the atrophy, injury to the organelles, and loss of the capacity for cell renewal is minimized if insulin is infused into the portally deprived liver. In these and other experiments, exogenous glucagon alone or the addition of glucagon to insulin has had no effect, but this may be because of the masking presence of gut glucagon and other hormonal or non-hormonal substances in our models. At present, the effects on the liver of exogenous insulin, glucagon, epidermal growth factor, and numerous other hormones are being determined by their intraportal infusion into eviscerated dogs in which other endogenous splanchnic factors have been eliminated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-129
Number of pages19
JournalCiba Foundation symposium
Issue number55
StatePublished - 1977

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