The adaptive response of the reticuloendothelial system to major liver resection in humans

M.J. Schindl, A.M. Millar, D.N. Redhead, K.C. Fearon, J.A. Ross, C.H. Dejong, O.J. Garden, S.J. Wigmore*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the contribution of the liver to total circulatory reticuloendothelial system (RES) phagocytosis capacity in patients undergoing liver resection and to compare it with values in end-stage chronic liver disease. SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: The mechanism whereby major liver resection is associated with a high incidence of infection is unknown. Significant impairment of RES phagocytosis has been described in liver failure, rendering such patients susceptible to infection; and we hypothesized that similar impairment might occur following major liver resection. METHODS: A prospective study was conducted in which Tc-albumin microspheres blood clearance served as a parameter for RES phagocytosis and was studied together with indocyanine green blood clearance, actual liver volume measured by three-dimensional image analysis, and a clinical score of hepatic dysfunction in 17 patients undergoing liver resection and in 8 patients with end-stage chronic liver disease assessed for liver transplantation. RESULTS: When expressed relative to volume unit of residual liver, microspheres clearance increased significantly in the immediate postoperative period (day 1) following major (0.009% versus 0.022% min(-1) mL(-1), P < 0.001), but not minor liver resection. In contrast, the absolute rate of microsphere clearance decreased following major resection (15% min(-1) versus 10% min(-1), P < 0.001) and was comparable with the rate observed in end-stage chronic liver disease (9% min(-1)). This decrease in circulatory microspheres clearance after resection paralleled a decrease in indocyanine green clearance (R2 = 0.511, P = 0.006), and there was a trend for those with moderate liver dysfunction to have lower microspheres clearance rates (P = 0.068). CONCLUSION: Preservation of a minimum volume of functioning liver is a prerequisite for adequate RES phagocytosis capacity, and failure of this system may predispose patients undergoing major liver resection to infection as observed in clinical studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-514
JournalAnnals of Surgery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006

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