Levels of bile 'tell' the liver how to regulate regeneration
When you’re just one small part of a vast team, it can be hard to gauge overall progress. That’s true whether you’re building a website, a skyscraper, or even a liver. Our liver is the only organ that can regenerate after injury or surgical removal – a handy trick for an organ that handles harmful toxins, and important for liver disease patients who have part of it removed. Keen to understand how this impressive growth is regulated to prevent individual cells producing perpetual expansion, researchers examined regrowing mouse livers (pictured at various times after a partial liver removal, with the expanding network of bile-transporting structures stained white). They discovered that the process uses levels of bile (the fat-digesting liquid produced by the liver) as an indicator of organ status, informing and activating cells accordingly to determine organ size – a skill that any future attempts at regenerative medicine will need to master.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.