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Front Physiol. 2013 Sep 26;4:258. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2013.00258.

Role of liver progenitors in acute liver injury.

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Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital Essen Essen, Germany ; Liver Cell Biology Lab (LIVR), Department of Cell Biology (CYTO), Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel Brussels, Belgium.


Acute liver failure (ALF) results from the acute and rapid loss of hepatocyte function and frequently exhibits a fulminant course, characterized by high mortality in the absence of immediate state-of-the-art intensive care and/or emergency liver transplantation (ELT). The role of hepatocyte-mediated liver regeneration during acute and chronic liver injury has been extensively investigated, and recent studies suggest that hepatocytes are not exclusively responsible for the regeneration of the injured liver during fulminant liver injury. Liver progenitor cells (LPC) (or resident liver stem cells) are quiescent in the healthy liver, but may be activated under conditions where the regenerative capacity of mature hepatocytes is severely impaired. This review aims to provide an overview of the role of the LPC population during ALF, and the role of putative cytokines, growth factors, mitogens, and hormones in the LPC response. We will highlight the potential interaction among cellular compartments during ALF, and discuss the possible prognostic value of the LPC response on ALF outcomes.


acute liver failure; hepatic failure; liver progenitor cells; liver regeneration; oval cells; severe acute liver injury; stem cells

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