The rapid regenerative response of the rat liver to partial hepatectomy is associated with a decline in liver epidermal growth factor receptor numbers which implies that ligand epidermal growth factor receptor interactions maybe important in initiating and/or modulating this process. The proliferative process in toxic hepatitis (where in contrast with partial hepatectomy the majority of hepatocytes have been exposed to damaging influences) has been less widely investigated. We studied the DNA synthetic response of rat livers to toxic injury induced by a 350 or 800 mg/kg ip injection of galactosamine and that caused by 70% hepatectomy, comparing the changes in epidermal growth factor receptor status. Both resulted in down regulation of epidermal growth factor receptors, suggesting similar ligand epidermal growth factor receptor binding occurs during the proliferative response after galactosamine administration and after partial hepatectomy. In vitro studies on isolated hepatocytes showed that epidermal growth factor receptor down regulation was not a direct effect of galactosamine on hepatocyte membranes.
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