Background\ud \ud Increases in urokinase-like plasminogen activator (uPA) activity are reported to be amongst the earliest events occurring in remnant liver following partial hepatectomy in rats, and have been proposed as a key component of the regenerative response. Remodelling of the extracellular matrix, conversion of single chain hepatocyte growth factor to the active two-chain form and a possible activation of a mitogenic signalling pathway have all been ascribed to the increased uPA activity. The present study aimed to determine whether similar early increases in uPA activity could be detected in the remnant liver following resection of metastatic tumours in surgical patients.\ud \ud Results\ud \ud Eighteen patients undergoing partial hepatectomy for the removal of hepatic metastases secondary to primary colonic tumours were studied. Increased plasminogen activator activity was found in the final liver samples for the group of patients in whom the resection size was at least 50%. For smaller resections, the increased activity was not observed. The increased activity did not correlate with the age of the patient or with the time between the start of resection and the end of the operation. There was, however, a negative correlation between plasminogen activator activity and the time for which blood supply to the liver was clamped.\ud \ud Conclusions\ud \ud Our findings are in accordance with those from experimental animal models and show, for the first time, that rapid increases in plasminogen activator activity can occur following similarly large liver resection in humans. Thus, increases in plasminogen activator activity are an early event in the remnant liver following major liver resection in man. Our observations provide support for the contention that increases in plasminogen activators play a key role in the initiation of hepatic regeneration in man.\ud \u
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