BACKGROUND: Liver regeneration is dependent on the proliferation of hepatocytes. Hepatic progenitor cells are intra-hepatic precursor cells capable of differentiating into hepatocytes or biliary cells. Although liver progenitor cell proliferation during the regenerative process has been observed in animal models of severe liver injury, it has never been observed in vivo in humans because it is unethical to take multiple biopsy specimens for the purpose of studying the proliferation of liver progenitor cells and the roles they play in liver regeneration. Associating liver partition and portal vein ligation for staged hepatectomy (ALPPS) is a staged procedure for inducing remnant liver hypertrophy so that major hepatectomy can be performed safely. This staged procedure allows for liver biopsy specimens to be taken before and after the liver begins to regenerate.
CASE PRESENTATION: The liver progenitor cell proliferation is observed in a patient undergoing ALPPS for a metastatic hepatic tumour. Liver biopsy is acquired before and after ALPPS for the calculation of average number of liver progenitor cell under high magnification examination by stain of immunomarkers. This is the first in vivo evidence of growing liver progenitor cells demonstrated in a regenerating human liver.