The role of stem cells in liver injury and repair

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Colleges, School and Institutes


Introduction: Liver disease is an increasing cause of worldwide mortality, and currently the only curative treatment for end-stage liver disease is whole organ allograft transplantation. Whilst this is an effective treatment, there is a shortage of suitable grafts and consequently some patients die whilst on the waiting list. Cell therapy provides an alternative treatment to increase liver function and potentially ameliorate fibrosis.

Areas covered: In this review, we discuss the different cellular sources for therapy investigated to date in humans including mature hepatocytes, hematopoietic stem cells, mesenchymal stromal cells and hepatic progenitor cells. Cells investigated in animals include embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells and directly reprogrammed cells. We then appraise the experience and evidence base underlying each cell type.

Expert opinion: We discuss how this field may evolve in the years to come focusing on opportunities to enhance the intrinsic regenerative response with therapeutic targets and cell therapies. Growing expertise in tissue engineering will likely lead to increasingly complex bio-reactors and bio-artificial livers, which open a further avenue to restore liver function and delay or prevent the need for transplantation.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-631
Number of pages9
JournalExpert review of gastroenterology & hepatology
Issue number7
Early online date20 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2019


  • Liver, cell therapy, progenitor cell, regeneration, stem cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas