This article is part of the supplement: Proceedings of Fibroproliferative disorders: from biochemical analysis to targeted therapies
Reversibility of liver fibrosis
Centre for Inflammation Research, Queen's Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
Fibrogenesis & Tissue Repair 2012, 5(Suppl 1):S26 doi:10.1186/1755-1536-5-S1-S26Published: 6 June 2012
Liver fibrosis, and its end stage cirrhosis are a major cause of morbidity and mortality and therapeutic options are limited. However, the traditional view of liver disease as an irreversible process is obsolete and it is now evident that the development of liver fibrosis is a dynamic and potentially bidirectional process. Spontaneous resolution of scarring is seen in animal models of liver fibrosis and in human trials in which the stimuli responsible for chronic or repeated hepatic inflammation is successfully removed. Key players in the process are hepatic stellate cells, macrophages, MMPs and their inhibitors Timps. It is also evident that in advanced fibrotic liver disease, specific histological features define what is currently described as "irreversible" fibrosis. This includes the development of paucicellular scars enriched in extensively cross-linked matrix components, such as fibrillar collagen and elastin. Our recent work has focused on the role of macrophage metalloelastase (MMP-12) in the turnover of elastin in reversible and irreversible models of fibrosis. We have shown that elastin turnover in liver injury and fibrosis is regulated by macrophages via Mmp-12 expression, activity and ratio to its inhibitor Timp-1. Failure of elastin degradation, together with increased deposition leads to accumulation of elastin in the fibrotic scars.