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Abstract

Intrahepatic hypoxia may occur during the inflammatory and fibrotic processes that characterize several chronic liver diseases of viral and autoimmune origin. As a consequence, new vascular structures are formed to provide oxygen and nutrients. Angiogenesis involves a tightly regulated network of cellular and molecular mechanisms that result in the formation of functional vessels. Of particular importance are growth factors, molecules involved in matrix remodeling and cell migration, and vessel maturation—related factors. In recent years, a number of studies have examined the expression and function of many pro- and antiangiogenic molecules in the setting of nontumoral chronic liver diseases and liver regeneration. This review examines the potential pathogenetic role of angiogenesis in the context of viral hepatitis, cirrhosis, autoimmune hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, and alcoholic liver disease. The future perspectives for research in this field are outlined. (HEPATOLOGY 2004;39:1185–1195.)