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Open Access Short review

Hepatic wound repair

Maurizio Parola1* and Massimo Pinzani2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Experimental Medicine and Oncology and Interuniversity Center for Liver Pathophysiology, University of Torino, Torino, Italy

2 Department of Internal Medicine and Center for Research, Transfer and High Education, University of Florence, Florence, Italy

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Fibrogenesis & Tissue Repair 2009, 2:4  doi:10.1186/1755-1536-2-4

Published: 25 September 2009

Abstract

Background

Human chronic liver diseases (CLDs) with different aetiologies rely on chronic activation of wound healing that represents the driving force for fibrogenesis progression (throughout defined patterns of fibrosis) to the end stage of cirrhosis and liver failure.

Issues

Fibrogenesis progression has a major worldwide clinical impact due to the high number of patients affected by CLDs, increasing mortality rate, incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma and shortage of organ donors for liver transplantation.

Basic science advances

Liver fibrogenesis is sustained by a heterogeneous population of profibrogenic hepatic myofibroblasts (MFs), the majority being positive for α smooth muscle actin (αSMA), that may originate from hepatic stellate cells and portal fibroblasts following a process of activation or from bone marrow-derived cells recruited to damaged liver and, in a method still disputed, by a process of epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) involving cholangiocytes and hepatocytes. Recent experimental and clinical data have identified, at tissue, cellular and molecular level major profibrogenic mechanisms: (a) chronic activation of the wound-healing reaction, (b) oxidative stress and related reactive intermediates, and (c) derangement of epithelial-mesenchymal interactions.

Clinical care relevance

Liver fibrosis may regress following specific therapeutic interventions able to downstage or, at least, stabilise fibrosis. In cirrhotic patients, this would lead to a reduction of portal hypertension and of the consequent clinical complications and to an overall improvement of liver function, thus extending the complication-free patient survival time and reducing the need for liver transplantation.

Conclusion

Emerging mechanisms and concepts related to liver fibrogenesis may significantly contribute to clinical management of patients affected by CLDs.