Liver myofibroblasts (MFB) are crucial mediators of extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition in liver fibrosis. They arise mainly from hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) upon a process termed "activation." To a lesser extent, and depending on the cause of liver damage, portal fibroblasts, mesothelial cells, and fibrocytes may also contribute to the MFB population. Targeting MFB to reduce liver fibrosis is currently an area of intense research. Unfortunately, a clog in the wheel of antifibrotic therapies is the fact that although MFB are known to mediate scar formation, and participate in liver inflammatory response, many of their molecular portraits are currently unknown. In this review, we discuss recent understanding of MFB in health and diseases, focusing specifically on three evolving research fields: metabolism, autophagy, and epigenetics. We have emphasized on therapeutic prospects where applicable and mentioned techniques for use in MFB studies. Subsequently, we highlighted uncharted territories in MFB research to help direct future efforts aimed at bridging gaps in current knowledge.
Keywords: autophagy; epigenetics; fibrosis; hepatic stellate cells; liver myofibroblasts; metabolism.