Liver progenitor cells, Cancer stem cells and hepatocellular carcinoma
Tirnitz-Parker, J.E.E., Yeoh, G.C.T. and Olynyk, J.K. (2012) Liver progenitor cells, Cancer stem cells and hepatocellular carcinoma. In: Baptista, P.M., (ed.) Liver Regeneration. InTech, Rijeka, Croatia, pp. 17-42.
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There is great interest in the biology of liver progenitor cells (LPCs) because of their stem cell-like ability to regenerate the liver when the hepatocyte pool is exhausted. Barely detectable in healthy tissue, they emerge upon chronic insult in periportal regions, proliferate and migrate to injury sites in the parenchyma and eventually differentiate into hepatocytes and cholangiocytes to restore liver mass, morphology and function. The increasing worldwide shortage of livers for orthotopic transplantation means LPCs have assumed more prominence as candidates for cell therapy as an alternative therapeutic approach for the treatment of various liver diseases. However, an LPC response is usually seen in pre-cancerous liver pathologies and their high proliferation potential makes them possible transformation targets; associations that overshadow their restorative capability. This mandates that we continue to investigate the factors that govern their activation, proliferation and especially their differentiation into mature, functional cells to effectively direct transplanted cells towards regeneration and not tumorigenicity.
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