Liver cell regeneration was assessed by determining the mitotic index and the frequency of liver cells with interploid DNA values in livers from patients dying from fulminant hepatitis. For comparison, the same parameters were determined in patients with uncomplicated hepatitis. We found comparable levels of regeneration in the two groups, indicating that the rate of liver cell destruction is a major determinant in the prognosis of acute liver failure. Accordingly, measures to prevent liver cell necrosis seem at least as important as stimulation of regeneration. Judged from available experimental evidence, substances with documented hepatotrophic effect in animals, such as insulin and glucagon, may therefore not be effective in acute liver failure unless the patient has impaired secretion of these substances.
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