The effects of continuous administration of cortisone on the metabolism of regenerating rat liver have been studied. Whereas the restoration of the weight of the liver after partial hepatectomy was not markedly affected by cortisone, the multiplication of cells was reduced to a significant degree after the first 2 days of regeneration. Liver restoration in terms of nucleic acids was similarly inhibited by cortisone. The results are consistent with the interpretation that the inhibition of cell multiplication in this system is dependent on and keeps pace with the inhibition of nucleic acid synthesis by this drug. At almost any time after hepatectomy, the nucleic acid content of the liver cells was the same in treated and in untreated animals.
In ancillary studies, it was shown that cortisone caused the cells of regenerating liver to be increased in size and weight through the increased infiltration of lipids. Changes in water, protein, and carbohydrate content of the liver cells did not contribute to this increase in the weight of the cells.
Since all animals were treated with cortisone for 5 days before hepatectomy, data were also obtained on the effect of this agent on the resting liver. This course of treatment brought about a significant decrease in the number of cells per unit wet weight and in the water content of the livers. The nucleic acid content of the cells at hepatectomy, on the other hand, was unchanged.