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Keywords:

  • fibrosis;
  • cirrhosis;
  • extracellular matrix;
  • hepatic stellate cell;
  • liver biopsy;
  • fibrosis regression

Abstract

Liver fibrosis is the hallmark of every chronic liver disease. It is also the major factor of morbidity and mortality due to the development of cirrhosis and its complications including hepatocellular carcinoma. But even at the beginning of the process of liver fibrosis and due to the strategic position of the extracellular matrix at the interface between blood flow and epithelial compartment, any quantitative or qualitative modification of extracellular matrix will rapidly affect structure and function of the liver. The development of several animal models of liver fibrosis as well as isolation and cultivation of hepatic stellate cells, the major fibrogenic cell type in the liver, led to the gathering of recent knowledge on the mechanism of liver fibrosis. Activation of hepatic stellate cells is a key event in this process and many details on this finely tuned mechanism are now available. In addition to these experimental data, experience from chronic hepatitis C now allows the development of new concepts and perspectives such as liver fibrosis regression and antifibrotic therapies. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.