Author(s): Zhang Y, Bai XF, Huang CX
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Abstract Stem cells are not only units of biological organization, responsible for the development and the regeneration of tissue and organ systems, but also are units in evolution by natural selection. It is accepted that there is stem cell potential in the liver. Like most organs in a healthy adult, the liver maintains a perfect balance between cell gain and loss. It has three levels of cells that can respond to loss of hepatocytes: (1) Mature hepatocytes, which proliferate after normal liver tissue renewal, less severe liver damage, etc; they are numerous, unipotent, "committed" and respond rapidly to liver injury. (2) Oval cells, which are activated to proliferate when the liver damage is extensive and chronic, or if proliferation of hepatocytes is inhibited; they lie within or immediately adjacent to the canal of Hering (CoH); they are less numerous, bipotent and respond by longer, but still limited proliferation. (3) Exogenous liver stem cells, which may derive from circulating hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) or bone marrow stem cells; they respond to allyl alcohol injury or hepatocarcinogenesis; they are multipotent, rare, but have a very long proliferation potential. They make a more significant contribution to regeneration, and even completely restore normal function in a murine model of hereditary tyrosinaemia. How these three stem cell populations integrate to achieve a homeostatic balance remains enigmatic. This review focuses on the location, activation, markers of the three candidates of liver stem cell, and the most importantly, therapeutic potential of hepatic stem cells.
This article was published in World J Gastroenterol
and referenced in Journal of Cancer Research and Immuno-Oncology