Liver Cells with Multiple Genome Copies May Protect Against Cancer

By Amanda Moises

While most human cells only have one set of chromosome pairs, certain cells in the heart, blood, and liver have two or more sets, a characteristic also known as polyploidy. Scientists have had limited research in the past about the functional importance of liver polyploid cells, but researchers from the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute (CRI) at UT Southwestern have found a new approach. The researchers developed a method that allowed them to not only alter ploidy, but to also separate the effects of multiple chromosome sets from the effects of genes that cause them.

The researchers found that polyploid liver cells are able to regenerate even after various injuries and that these cells can actually protect against liver cancer formation in mice. Furthermore, the polyploid liver cells also protected against the loss of tumor suppressor genes. These findings have important implications for humans because, normally, human diploid cells are susceptible to cancer when they lose one or both copies of tumor suppressor genes. Since polyploid cells have more than one set of chromosomes, they have multiple copies of the tumor suppressor genes. Scientists can use this new research to further study the effect of polyploidy on preventing liver cancer as well as other chronic liver diseases.


UT Southwestern Medical Center. (2018, February 9). Liver cells with whole genome duplications protect against cancer, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 17, 2018 from