Self-renewing diploid Axin2(+) cells fuel homeostatic renewal of the liver

Nature. 2015 Aug 13;524(7564):180-5. doi: 10.1038/nature14863. Epub 2015 Aug 5.


The source of new hepatocytes in the uninjured liver has remained an open question. By lineage tracing using the Wnt-responsive gene Axin2 in mice, we identify a population of proliferating and self-renewing cells adjacent to the central vein in the liver lobule. These pericentral cells express the early liver progenitor marker Tbx3, are diploid, and thereby differ from mature hepatocytes, which are mostly polyploid. The descendants of pericentral cells differentiate into Tbx3-negative, polyploid hepatocytes, and can replace all hepatocytes along the liver lobule during homeostatic renewal. Adjacent central vein endothelial cells provide Wnt signals that maintain the pericentral cells, thereby constituting the niche. Thus, we identify a cell population in the liver that subserves homeostatic hepatocyte renewal, characterize its anatomical niche, and identify molecular signals that regulate its activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axin Protein / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Lineage
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Clone Cells / cytology
  • Clone Cells / metabolism
  • Diploidy*
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Female
  • Hepatocytes / cytology*
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis*
  • Liver / blood supply
  • Liver / cytology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Polyploidy
  • Regeneration
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Stem Cell Niche / physiology
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • T-Box Domain Proteins / deficiency
  • T-Box Domain Proteins / metabolism
  • Time Factors
  • Veins / cytology
  • Veins / metabolism
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway


  • Axin Protein
  • Axin2 protein, mouse
  • Biomarkers
  • T-Box Domain Proteins
  • Tbx3 protein, mouse

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE68806