Advances in hepatic stem/progenitor cell biology
The liver is famous for its strong regenerative capacity, employing different modes of regeneration according to type and extent of injury. Mature liver cells are able to proliferate in order to replace the damaged tissue allowing the recovery of the parenchymal function. In more severe scenarios hepatocytes are believed to arise also from a facultative liver progenitor cell compartment. In human, severe acute liver failure and liver cirrhosis are also both important clinical targets in which regeneration is impaired, where the role of this stem cell compartment seems more convincing. In animal models, the current state of ambiguity regarding the identity and role of liver progenitor cells in liver physiology dampens the enthusiasm for the potential use of these cells in regenerative medicine. The aim of this review is to give the basics of liver progenitor cell biology and discuss recent results vis-à-vis their identity and contribution to liver regeneration.
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