Mesenchymal stromal cells in hepatic fibrosis/cirrhosis: from pathogenesis to treatment

Cell Mol Immunol. 2023 Jun;20(6):583-599. doi: 10.1038/s41423-023-00983-5. Epub 2023 Feb 24.


Hepatic fibrosis/cirrhosis is a significant health burden worldwide, resulting in liver failure or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and accounting for many deaths each year. The pathogenesis of hepatic fibrosis/cirrhosis is very complex, which makes treatment challenging. Endogenous mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) have been shown to play pivotal roles in the pathogenesis of hepatic fibrosis. Paradoxically, exogenous MSCs have also been used in clinical trials for liver cirrhosis, and their effectiveness has been observed in most completed clinical trials. There are still many issues to be resolved to promote the use of MSCs in the clinic in the future. In this review, we will examine the controversial role of MSCs in the pathogenesis and treatment of hepatic fibrosis/cirrhosis. We also investigated the clinical trials involving MSCs in liver cirrhosis, summarized the parameters that need to be standardized, and discussed how to promote the use of MSCs from a clinical perspective.

Keywords: Clinical application; Hepatic fibrosis/cirrhosis; Mesenchymal stromal cells; Pathogenesis; Treatment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / pathology
  • Fibrosis
  • Hepatic Stellate Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / pathology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / therapy
  • Liver Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation* / methods
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells*