Bridging the gap: Advances in artificial liver support


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.


Key Points

1. The goals of liver support therapy include the following:

• To provide detoxification and synthetic function during liver failure.

• To remove or reduce the production of proinflammatory cytokines to correct the systemic inflammatory response of liver failure.

• To stimulate the regeneration of the injured liver and increase the likelihood of spontaneous recovery.

2. There is a large unmet need for a liver support device because of the shortage of organs for liver transplantation and the risks of major surgery.

3. Liver support devices can be divided into 2 groups: purely mechanical artificial devices and cell-based bioartificial devices. Both provide detoxification, but bioartificial liver devices provide the option of synthetic function and biotransformation activities that are not possible with a purely mechanical device.

4. An abundant high-quality supply of human hepatocytes is not currently available for liver cell therapy. However, such a supply is essential for successful bioartificial liver therapy. Novel options are under development for the unlimited production of high-quality human hepatocytes. Liver Transpl, 2012. © 2012 AASLD.