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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in BMC Systems Biology, Volume 13, Issue 1, January 2019, Article number 9.

The published version is available at Copyright © Verma et al.


BACKGROUND: Liver has the unique ability to regenerate following injury, with a wide range of variability of the regenerative response across individuals. Existing computational models of the liver regeneration are largely tuned based on rodent data and hence it is not clear how well these models capture the dynamics of human liver regeneration. Recent availability of human liver volumetry time series data has enabled new opportunities to tune the computational models for human-relevant time scales, and to predict factors that can significantly alter the dynamics of liver regeneration following a resection.

METHODS: We utilized a mathematical model that integrates signaling mechanisms and cellular functional state transitions. We tuned the model parameters to match the time scale of human liver regeneration using an elastic net based regularization approach for identifying optimal parameter values. We initially examined the effect of each parameter individually on the response mode (normal, suppressed, failure) and extent of recovery to identify critical parameters. We employed phase plane analysis to compute the threshold of resection. We mapped the distribution of the response modes and threshold of resection in a virtual patient cohort generated in silico via simultaneous variations in two most critical parameters.

RESULTS: Analysis of the responses to resection with individual parameter variations showed that the response mode and extent of recovery following resection were most sensitive to variations in two perioperative factors, metabolic load and cell death post partial hepatectomy. Phase plane analysis identified two steady states corresponding to recovery and failure, with a threshold of resection separating the two basins of attraction. The size of the basin of attraction for the recovery mode varied as a function of metabolic load and cell death sensitivity, leading to a change in the multiplicity of the system in response to changes in these two parameters.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that the response mode and threshold of failure are critically dependent on the metabolic load and cell death sensitivity parameters that are likely to be patient-specific. Interventions that modulate these critical perioperative factors may be helpful to drive the liver regenerative response process towards a complete recovery mode.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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