The effect of partial (70%) hepatectomy on phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) synthesis was studied in rat liver during the first 4 post-operative days. Between 4 and 96 h after partial hepatectomy, the mass of PE increased from 30% to 80% of sham-operation values. In line with the increase in PE mass, the rate of PE synthesis in vivo from [14C]ethanolamine was stimulated 1.6- and 1.3-fold at 22 and 48 h after partial hepatectomy respectively. Surprisingly, the activity of CTP:phosphoethanolamine cytidylyltransferase (EC was virtually unchanged after partial hepatectomy. In addition, neither ethanolamine kinase (EC nor ethanolaminephosphotransferase (EC showed any changes in activity over the time period studied. Hepatic levels of ethanolamine and phosphoethanolamine were drastically increased after partial hepatectomy, as compared with sham operation, whereas levels of CDP-ethanolamine and microsomal diacylglycerol were not affected. Interestingly, partial hepatectomy caused the concentration of free ethanolamine in serum to increase from 29 microM to approx. 50 microM during the first day after surgery. In hepatocytes isolated from non-operated animals, incorporation of [3H]ethanolamine into PE was stimulated by increasing the ethanolamine concentration from 10 up to 50 microM, whereas the radioactivity associated with phosphoethanolamine only increased at ethanolamine concentrations higher than 30 microM. Taken together, our results indicate that the observed increase in serum ethanolamine concentration after partial hepatectomy is probably responsible for both the increase in PE biosynthesis and the accumulation of ethanolamine and phosphoethanolamine in regenerating liver.

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