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Dynamic Changes in Normal Liver Parenchymal Volume During Chemotherapy for Colorectal Cancer: Liver Atrophy as an Alternate Marker of Chemotherapy-Associated Liver Injury

Junichi Shindoh MD, Yuta Kobayashi MD, Keiichi Kinowaki MD, Yoshihiro Mise MD, Wataru Gonoi MD, Shuntaro Yoshida MD, Keigo Tani MD, Shuichiro Matoba MD, Hiroya Kuroyanagi MD, Masaji Hashimoto MD
Hepatobiliary Tumors
Volume 26, Issue 12 / November , 2019



The purpose of this study was to investigate the incidence, origin, and clinical significance of liver atrophy during chemotherapy for colorectal cancer.


This study included 103 patients who underwent chemotherapy before resection for colorectal liver metastases (training set) and 171 patients who underwent adjuvant or first-line chemotherapy without liver resection (validation set). A greater than 10% decrease (atrophy) or increase (hypertrophy) of the liver volume from the baseline was defined as a significant change.


In the training set, the numbers of patients who developed atrophy, no change of volume, and hypertrophy of the liver after chemotherapy were 15 (14.6%), 73 (70.9%), and 15 (14.6%), respectively. Liver atrophy was associated with impaired hepatic function, and the postoperative morbidity rate and refractory ascites/pleural effusion were higher in the patients with liver atrophy than those without (60.0% vs. 31.8%, P = 0.045 and 46.7% vs. 8.0%, P < 0.001, respectively). Histopathological examination revealed a strong association between sinusoidal injury and liver atrophy (P < 0.001). The cumulative incidence of liver atrophy increased with increasing duration of chemotherapy, whereas the incidence of liver atrophy was less frequent in patients who had received bevacizumab than those who had not in both the training set (odds ratio [OR], 0.13; P = 0.001) and the validation set (OR, 0.31; P = 0.007).


Liver atrophy is associated with impaired hepatic functional reserve and observed at an increasing frequency as the duration of chemotherapy increases with frequent histopathological evidence of sinusoidal injury in the liver. Bevacizumab may protect against the development of liver atrophy.

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