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Hepatobiliary Surg Nutr. 2015 Feb;4(1):48-58. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2304-3881.2015.01.16.

Role of liver progenitors in liver regeneration.

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1 Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital Essen, Essen, Germany ; 2 Liver Cell Biology Lab, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium ; 3 Regeneration and Repair, The Institute of Hepatology, Foundation for Liver Research, London, UK ; 4 Liver Unit, Barts Health NHS Trust, London, UK ; 5 Department of Surgery, Loyola University Chicago, USA.


During massive liver injury and hepatocyte loss, the intrinsic regenerative capacity of the liver by replication of resident hepatocytes is overwhelmed. Treatment of this condition depends on the cause of liver injury, though in many cases liver transplantation (LT) remains the only curative option. LT for end stage chronic and acute liver diseases is hampered by shortage of donor organs and requires immunosuppression. Hepatocyte transplantation is limited by yet unresolved technical difficulties. Since currently no treatment is available to facilitate liver regeneration directly, therapies involving the use of resident liver stem or progenitor cells (LPCs) or non-liver stem cells are coming to fore. LPCs are quiescent in the healthy liver, but may be activated under conditions where the regenerative capacity of mature hepatocytes is severely impaired. Non-liver stem cells include embryonic stem cells (ES cells) and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). In the first section, we aim to provide an overview of the role of putative cytokines, growth factors, mitogens and hormones in regulating LPC response and briefly discuss the prognostic value of the LPC response in clinical practice. In the latter section, we will highlight the role of other (non-liver) stem cells in transplantation and discuss advantages and disadvantages of ES cells, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), as well as MSCs.


Liver progenitor cells (LPCs); hepatic stellate cells (HSCs); liver cirrhosis; liver failure; liver regeneration; mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs); stem cells

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