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Keywords:

  • liver stem/progenitor cells;
  • hepatic differentiation, unbalanced distribution theory;
  • hepatocytes;
  • liver regeneration

Abstract

Liver stem/progenitor cells (LSPCs) are able to duplicate themselves and differentiate into each type of cells in the liver, including mature hepatocytes and cholangiocytes. Understanding how to accurately control the hepatic differentiation of LSPCs is a challenge in many fields from preclinical to clinical treatments. This review summarizes the recent advances made to control the hepatic differentiation of LSPCs over the last few decades. The hepatic differentiation of LSPCs is a gradual process consisting of three main steps: initiation, progression and accomplishment. The unbalanced distribution of the affecting materials in each step results in the hepatic maturation of LSPCs. As the innovative and creative works for generating hepatocytes with full functions from LSPCs are gradually accumulated, LSPC therapies will soon be a new choice for treating liver diseases.