Links between hepatic fibrosis, ductular reaction, and progenitor cell expansion

Gastroenterology. 2014 Feb;146(2):349-56. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2013.11.034. Epub 2013 Dec 4.


Interactions between cells and their extracellular matrix have been shown to be crucial in a wide range of biological processes, including the proliferation and differentiation of stem cells. Ductular reactions containing both hepatic progenitor cells and extracellular matrix are seen in response to acute severe and chronic liver injury. Understanding the molecular mechanisms whereby cell-matrix interactions regulate liver regeneration may allow novel strategies to enhance this process. Both the ductular reaction in humans and hepatic progenitor cells in rodent models are closely associated with collagen and laminin, although there is still debate about cause and effect. Recent studies have shown a requirement for matrix remodeling by matrix metalloproteinases for the proliferation of hepatic progenitor cells and suggested defined roles for specific matrix components. Understanding the interactions between progenitor cells and matrix is critical for the development of novel regenerative and antifibrotic therapies.

Keywords: 2-AAF; 2-acetylaminofluorene; CDE; Collagen; DR; EpCAM; Extracellular Matrix; HPC; Laminin; Liver Regeneration; MMP; TGF; choline-deficient ethionine-supplemented; ductular reaction; epithelial cell adhesion molecule; hepatic progenitor cell; matrix metalloproteinase; transforming growth factor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology*
  • Hepatocytes / pathology
  • Hepatocytes / physiology
  • Humans
  • Laminin / metabolism
  • Liver Cirrhosis / metabolism
  • Liver Cirrhosis / pathology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / physiopathology*
  • Liver Regeneration / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Stem Cells / physiology*


  • Biomarkers
  • Laminin
  • Collagen