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"Lifespan" of Liver Cells:  Autoradiographic Study Using Tritiated Thymidine in Normal, Cirrhotic, and Partially Hepatectomized Rats

Arch Intern Med. 1961;107(3):335-343. doi:10.1001/archinte.1961.03620030023003.
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Little information is available concerning the lifespan of liver cells in the normal and diseased liver. This is a study of the length of time that newly formed hepatic nuclei containing tritium (H3)-labeled deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) remain in the liver in normal rats and mice, and in rats with fatty, cirrhotic, and partially hepatectomized liver. The method was as follows. It has been observed that thymidine is a specific precursor of DNA,1 which is considered to be relatively stable until a cell prepares for division, at which time the cell synthesizes additional DNA.2 The half-life of tritium is 12.5 years,3 and that of the rat is approximately 3 years,4 so that tritiated thymidine (H3-thymidine) incorporated into cell nuclei should identify those nuclei for the life of the animal, until the cells divide further, diluting out their labeled DNA, or until the cells


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