Argon Delays Initiation of Liver Regeneration after Partial Hepatectomy in Rats

Tom Florian Ulmer*, Athanassious Fragoulis, Henriette Dohmeier, Andreas Kroh, Anne Andert, Christian Stoppe, Hamid Alizai, Christian Klink, Mark Coburn, Ulf Peter Neumann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The liver can heal up to restitutio ad integrum following damage resulting from various causes. Different studies have demonstrated the protective effect of argon on various cells and organs. To the best of our knowledge, the organ-protective effects of the noble gas argon on the liver have not yet been investigated, although argon appears to influence signal paths that are well-known mediators of liver regeneration. We hypothesized that argon inhalation prior to partial hepatectomy (70%) has a positive effect on the initiation of liver regeneration in rats. Methods: Partial hepatectomy (70%) with or without inhaled argon (50 vol%) was performed for 1 h. Liver tissue was harvested after 3, 36, and 96 h to analyze the mRNA and protein expression of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-a, and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2. Histological tissue samples were prepared for immunohistochemistry (bromodeoxyuridine [ BrdU], Ki-67, and TUNEL) and blood was analyzed regarding the effects of argon on liver function. Statistical analyses were performed using 1-way ANOVA followed by the post hoc Tukey-Kramer test. Results: After 3 h, the primary outcome parameter of hepatocyte proliferation was significantly reduced with argon 50 vol% inhalation in comparison to nitrogen inhalation (BrdU: 15.7 +/- 9.7 vs. 7.7 +/- 3.1 positive cells/1,000 hepatocytes, p = 0.013; Ki-67: 17.6 +/- 13.3 vs. 4.7 +/- 5.4 positive cells/1,000 hepatocytes, p = 0.006). This was most likely mediated by significant downregulation of HGF (after 3 h: 5.2 +/- 3.2 vs. 2.3 +/- 1.0 fold, p = 0.032; after 96 h: 2.1 +/- 0.5 vs. 1.3 +/- 0.3 fold, p = 0.029) and IL-6 (after 3 h: 43.7 +/- 39.6 vs. 8.5 +/- 9.2 fold, p = 0.032). Nevertheless, we could detect no significant effect on the weight of the residual liver, liver-body weight ratio, or liver blood test results after argon inhalation. Conclusion: Impairment of liver regeneration was apparent after argon 50 vol% inhalation that was most probably mediated by downregulation of HGF and IL-6 in the initial phase. However, the present study was not adequately powered to prove that argon has detrimental effects on the liver. Further studies are needed to evaluate the effects of argon on livers with preexisting conditions as well as on ischemia-reperfusion models. (C) 2017 S. Karger AG, Basel

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-215
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Surgical Research
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Liver surgery
  • Hepatectomy
  • Liver regeneration
  • Argon
  • Hepatocyte growth factor


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