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Panminerva Medica 2010 June;52(2):149-65

language: English

Stem cells and hepatic cirrhosis

Chen Z. 1, Qi L.-Z. 2, Zeng R. 3, Li H.-Y. 4, Dai L.-J. 4

1 Laboratory of Infection and Immunology, Affiliated Hospital of Luzhou Medical College, Luzhou, Sichuan, China
2 First Hospital of Qingdao Techno-economy, Development Zone, Qingdao, China;
3 Department of Gastroenterology, The First Affiliated, Hospital of Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China;
4 Department of Surgery, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada


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Hepatic cirrhosis is defined as the histological development of regenerative nodules surrounded by fibrous bands in response to chronic liver injury, which leads to portal hypertension and end-stage liver disease. The majority of patients with hepatic cirrhosis die from life-threatening complications at early age. Liver transplantation has been the most effective treatment for patients with hepatic cirrhosis. Since liver transplantation is critically limited by the shortage of available donor livers, searching for an effective alternative therapy has attracted great interest in preclinical studies. The encouraging advances in stem cell research have paved the way towards the treatment of the end-stage of chronic liver disease. In view of the pathogenic fundamentals of hepatic cirrhosis, stem cell-based treatment should be aimed to complement or replace damaged liver cells and to correct the imbalanced extracellular matrix regeneration/degradation. This review is intended to describe the characteristics and therapeutic potential of various liver repair-related stem cells, including hepatocytes, liver progenitor cells, hematopoietic stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells, embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. Since autologous adult stem cells have the least number of obstacles for clinical application, their potential interventions on cirrhosis are especially illustrated in terms of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of hepatic fibrogenesis.

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ljdai@interchange.ubc.ca