The influence of glucocorticoid hormone on the time-course of liver regeneration in the immature rat has been studied by direct measurement of the rate of DNA accretion after the stimulus of partial hepatectomy. In contrast to hepatocyte proliferation associated with normal growth, which is almost completely abolished by small doses of glucocorticoid, it is shown that even enormous amounts of hormone produce, at most, about a halving of the intrinsic cell proliferation rate in regenerating liver. Although deceptively magnified by the exponential growth pattern of the hepatic remnant, the inhibition of cell proliferation is thus considerably less complete than that induced in normally growing liver by much lower doses of hormone, a finding at distinct variance with the conclusions of earlier studies based entirely upon observations of radioactive precursor incorporation rather than direct measurement of DNA accretion. The mechanism by which a regenerative stimulus causes hepatocyte proliferation to lose its normal sensitivity to suppression by glucocorticoid, and thereby to exhibit a steroid insensitivity characteristic of other tissues in which cell proliferation reflects cell replenishment rather than normal growth, remains unknown.
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