Hepatic stellate cells as a target for the treatment of liver fibrosis

Semin Liver Dis. 2001 Aug;21(3):437-51. doi: 10.1055/s-2001-17558.


Following chronic liver injury of any etiology, there is progressive fibrosis. To date, removing the causative agent is the only effective therapy to stop or even reverse liver fibrosis. Therefore, the development of effective antifibrotic therapies represents a challenge for modern hepatology. In the past decade, dramatic advances have been made in the understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying liver fibrogenesis. The identification of activated hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) as the major fibrogenic cell type in the injured liver, as well as the recognition of key cytokines involved in this process, have facilitated the design of promising new antifibrotic therapies. These therapies are aimed at inhibiting the accumulation of activated HSCs at the sites of liver injury and preventing the deposition of extracellular matrix. Although many of these approaches are effective in experimental models of liver fibrosis, their efficacy and safety in humans are still unknown. This review describes the current therapeutic approaches for liver fibrosis and discusses different features of activated HSCs as a target to design new treatments to inhibit scar formation in chronic liver diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Collagen / biosynthesis
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Cytokines / pharmacology*
  • Cytokines / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Liver / cytology*
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / physiopathology*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / therapy*


  • Cytokines
  • Collagen