Cell and Tissue Research

, 331:283 | Cite as

Activation of stem cells in hepatic diseases

  • T. G. BirdEmail author
  • S. Lorenzini
  • S. J. Forbes


The liver has enormous regenerative capacity. Following acute liver injury, hepatocyte division regenerates the parenchyma but, if this capacity is overwhelmed during massive or chronic liver injury, the intrinsic hepatic progenitor cells (HPCs) termed oval cells are activated. These HPCs are bipotential and can regenerate both biliary epithelia and hepatocytes. Multiple signalling pathways contribute to the complex mechanism controlling the behaviour of the HPCs. These signals are delivered primarily by the surrounding microenvironment. During liver disease, stem cells extrinsic to the liver are activated and bone-marrow-derived cells play a role in the generation of fibrosis during liver injury and its resolution. Here, we review our current understanding of the role of stem cells during liver disease and their mechanisms of activation.


Liver regeneration Liver cirrhosis Oval cells Stem cells Bone marrow 







Bile duct ligation


Bone marrow


Bone marrow stem cell


Carbon tetrachloride


Choline-deficient ethionine-supplemented




Connective tissue growth factor




Dipeptidyl peptidase IV


Extracellular matrix


Extracellular signal-regulated kinase


Epidermal growth factor

FAH −/−

Fumarylacetoacetate hydrolase knockout


Fibroblast growth factor


FGF receptor


Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor


Hepatocyte growth factor


Hepatocellular carcinoma


Hepatic progenitor cell






Janus kinase


Leukaemia inhibitor factor


LIF receptor






Oval cell


Oncostatin M


OSM receptor


Partial hepatectomy


Peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor


Stem cell factor


Stromal-cell-derived factor 1


Spermatogenic immunoglobulin superfamily


Signal transductor and activator of transcription


Transforming growth factor


Tumour necrosis factor


TNF-like weak induction of apoptosis


Urokinase-type plasminogen activator


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© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MRC/University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research, The Queen’s Medical Research InstituteUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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