Cell-based therapeutics for liver disorders

Br Med Bull. 2011:100:157-72. doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldr031. Epub 2011 Jul 19.


Introduction: Due to a lack of adequate liver donors and post-surgical complications, researchers propose that cell therapy should be an alternative treatment for patients with end-stage liver diseases.

Data sources: We performed a literature review on cell-based therapy for liver disorders.

Areas of agreement: Due to growing numbers of patients on waiting lists for liver transplantation, a substitute treatment strategy is needed for our patients. Cell therapy can save patients who are in life-threatening situations, enabling them to have more time and increase their chances of survival. Pluripotent stem cells can be a good resource for cell-based therapy after the establishment of efficient differentiation protocols in addition to the settlement of ethical and immunological issues. Cell-based therapy will be applicable after the approval of its efficiency via animal model studies.

Areas of controversy: Transplanted cells cannot integrate into the recipient liver and lose their functionality after a limited time. The rate of homing and transdifferentiation of transplanted cells into hepatocytes is scant.

Growing points: Application of autologous bone marrow mononuclear cells (MNCs), hematopoietic and mesenchymal stem cells (HSCs and MSCs) has improved the general conditions of certain patients. Although this improvement is temporary, new studies have focused on increasing their performance. TIMELY AREAS FOR DEVELOPING RESEARCH: The safety, feasibility and efficacy of applying MNCs, HSCs and MSCs in liver disorders have been proven in clinical trials. Patient-specific cell therapy after the production of induced pluripotent stem cells and new discoveries in somatic cell conversion during transdifferentiation are promising insights.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases / etiology
  • Liver Diseases / physiopathology
  • Liver Diseases / therapy*
  • Liver Regeneration / physiology
  • Liver, Artificial
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Tissue Engineering / methods