Vagus-macrophage-hepatocyte link promotes post-injury liver regeneration and whole-body survival through hepatic FoxM1 activation

Journal: Nature Communications

Published: 2018-12-13

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-07747-0

Affiliations: 5

Authors: 18

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Research Highlight

How the liver repairs itself

© Science Photo Library - ROGER HARRIS/Getty

© Science Photo Library - ROGER HARRIS/Getty

The liver regenerates after injury thanks to a multistep molecular cascade that starts in the vagus nerve, one of the cranial nerves that connect the brain to the body, and works through white blood cells that serve as intermediaries.

The findings of a mouse study led by scientists at Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine could lead to novel strategies for promoting survival in people following liver damage.

The researchers showed that the vagus nerve secretes a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine after part of the mouse liver is surgical removed. White blood cells known as macrophages receive the vagal signal and start releasing a molecule that prompts liver cells to increase their production of FoxM1, a regulatory protein implicated in tissue regeneration — and, thus, whole-body survival.

The study is the first to demonstrate that vagal signaling works through macrophages to control the regenerative process of organs.

Supported content

  1. Nature Communications 9, 5300 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07747-0
Institutions Share
Tohoku University, Japan 0.92
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), United States of America (USA) 0.06
Iwate Medical University, Japan 0.03