Hepatic fibrogenesis in response to chronic liver injury: novel insights on the role of cell-to-cell interaction and transition


Gianluca Svegliati-Baroni, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Nuovo Polo Didattico, III piano, Via Tronto 10, 60020 Ancona, Italy
Tel: +39 0712206043
Fax: +39 0712206044
e-mail: g.svegliati@univpm.it


Hepatic fibrosis represents the wound-healing response process of the liver to chronic injury, independently from aetiology. Advanced liver fibrosis results in cirrhosis that can lead to liver failure, portal hypertension and hepatocellular carcinoma. Currently, no effective therapies are available for hepatic fibrosis. After the definition of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) as the main liver extracellular matrix-producing cells in the 1980s, the subsequent decade was dedicated to determine the role of specific cytokines and growth factors. Fibrotic progression of chronic liver diseases can be nowadays considered as a dynamic and highly integrated process of cellular response to chronic liver injury. The present review is dedicated to the novel mechanisms of cellular response to chronic liver injury leading to hepatic myofibroblasts' activation. The understanding of the cellular and molecular pathways regulating their function is crucial to counteract therapeutically the organ dysfunction caused by myofibroblasts' activation.