Reactivation of Hedgehog (Hh), a morphogenic signaling pathway that controls progenitor cell fate and tissue construction during embryogenesis occurs during many types of liver injury in adult. The net effects of activating the Hedgehog pathway include expansion of liver progenitor populations to promote liver regeneration, but also hepatic accumulation of inflammatory cells, liver fibrogenesis, and vascular remodeling. All of these latter responses are known to be involved in the pathogenesis of cirrhosis. In addition, Hh signaling may play a role in primary liver cancers, such as cholangiocarcinoma and hepatocellular carcinoma. Study of Hedgehog signaling in liver cells is in its infancy. Additional research in this area is justified given growing experimental and clinical data supporting a role for the pathway in regulating outcomes of liver injury.
Copyright © 2010 European Association for the Study of the Liver. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.