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      Contribution of Resident Stem Cells to Liver and Biliary Tree Regeneration in Human Diseases


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          Two distinct stem/progenitor cell populations of biliary origin have been identified in the adult liver and biliary tree. Hepatic Stem/progenitor Cells (HpSCs) are bipotent progenitor cells located within the canals of Hering and can be differentiated into mature hepatocytes and cholangiocytes; Biliary Tree Stem/progenitor Cells (BTSCs) are multipotent stem cells located within the peribiliary glands of large intrahepatic and extrahepatic bile ducts and able to differentiate into hepatic and pancreatic lineages. HpSCs and BTSCs are endowed in a specialized niche constituted by supporting cells and extracellular matrix compounds. The actual contribution of these stem cell niches to liver and biliary tree homeostatic regeneration is marginal; this is due to the high replicative capabilities and plasticity of mature parenchymal cells (i.e., hepatocytes and cholangiocytes). However, the study of human liver and biliary diseases disclosed how these stem cell niches are involved in the regenerative response after extensive and/or chronic injuries, with the activation of specific signaling pathways. The present review summarizes the contribution of stem/progenitor cell niches in human liver diseases, underlining mechanisms of activation and clinical implications, including fibrogenesis and disease progression.

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          Most cited references 71

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          Human hepatic stem cells from fetal and postnatal donors

          Human hepatic stem cells (hHpSCs), which are pluripotent precursors of hepatoblasts and thence of hepatocytic and biliary epithelia, are located in ductal plates in fetal livers and in Canals of Hering in adult livers. They can be isolated by immunoselection for epithelial cell adhesion molecule–positive (EpCAM+) cells, and they constitute ∼0.5–2.5% of liver parenchyma of all donor ages. The self-renewal capacity of hHpSCs is indicated by phenotypic stability after expansion for >150 population doublings in a serum-free, defined medium and with a doubling time of ∼36 h. Survival and proliferation of hHpSCs require paracrine signaling by hepatic stellate cells and/or angioblasts that coisolate with them. The hHpSCs are ∼9 μm in diameter, express cytokeratins 8, 18, and 19, CD133/1, telomerase, CD44H, claudin 3, and albumin (weakly). They are negative for α-fetoprotein (AFP), intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM) 1, and for markers of adult liver cells (cytochrome P450s), hemopoietic cells (CD45), and mesenchymal cells (vascular endothelial growth factor receptor and desmin). If transferred to STO feeders, hHpSCs give rise to hepatoblasts, which are recognizable by cordlike colony morphology and up-regulation of AFP, P4503A7, and ICAM1. Transplantation of freshly isolated EpCAM+ cells or of hHpSCs expanded in culture into NOD/SCID mice results in mature liver tissue expressing human-specific proteins. The hHpSCs are candidates for liver cell therapies.
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            The portal inflammatory infiltrate and ductular reaction in human nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

            Although nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is conventionally assessed histologically for lobular features of inflammation, development of portal fibrosis appears to be associated with disease progression. We investigated the composition of the portal inflammatory infiltrate and its relationship to the ductular reaction (DR), a second portal phenomenon implicated in fibrogenesis. The portal inflammatory infiltrate may contribute directly to fibrogenesis as well as influence the fate of the DR hepatic progenitor cells (HPCs), regulating the balance between liver repair and fibrosis. The presence of portal inflammation in NAFLD was strongly correlated with disease severity (fibrosis stage) and the DR. The portal infiltrate was characterized by immunostaining NAFLD liver biopsy sections (n = 33) for broad leukocyte subset markers (CD68, CD3, CD8, CD4, CD20, and neutrophil elastase) and selected inflammatory markers (matrix metalloproteinase 9 and interleukin [IL]-17). Cells expressing all markers examined were identified throughout the liver lobules and in portal tracts, although portal tracts were more densely populated (P < 0.01), and dominated by CD68(+) macrophages and CD8(+) lymphocytes, at all stages of disease. An increase in portal macrophages in NAFLD patients with steatosis alone (P < 0.01) was the earliest change detected, even before elevated expression of the proinflammatory cytokines, IL1B and TNF, in patients with early NASH (P < 0.05). Portal and periductal accumulation of all other cell types examined occurred in progressed NASH (all P < 0.05). Knowledge of the complex cellular composition of the portal inflammatory infiltrate and HPC/DR niche in NAFLD will shape future functional studies to elucidate the contribution of portal inflammation to HPC differentiation and NAFLD pathogenesis. © 2014 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.
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              Fate tracing of mature hepatocytes in mouse liver homeostasis and regeneration.

              Recent evidence has contradicted the prevailing view that homeostasis and regeneration of the adult liver are mediated by self duplication of lineage-restricted hepatocytes and biliary epithelial cells. These new data suggest that liver progenitor cells do not function solely as a backup system in chronic liver injury; rather, they also produce hepatocytes after acute injury and are in fact the main source of new hepatocytes during normal hepatocyte turnover. In addition, other evidence suggests that hepatocytes are capable of lineage conversion, acting as precursors of biliary epithelial cells during biliary injury. To test these concepts, we generated a hepatocyte fate-tracing model based on timed and specific Cre recombinase expression and marker gene activation in all hepatocytes of adult Rosa26 reporter mice with an adenoassociated viral vector. We found that newly formed hepatocytes derived from preexisting hepatocytes in the normal liver and that liver progenitor cells contributed minimally to acute hepatocyte regeneration. Further, we found no evidence that biliary injury induced conversion of hepatocytes into biliary epithelial cells. These results therefore restore the previously prevailing paradigms of liver homeostasis and regeneration. In addition, our new vector system will be a valuable tool for timed, efficient, and specific loop out of floxed sequences in hepatocytes.

                Author and article information

                Int J Mol Sci
                Int J Mol Sci
                International Journal of Molecular Sciences
                25 September 2018
                October 2018
                : 19
                : 10
                [1 ]Department of Anatomical, Histological, Forensic Medicine and Orthopedics Sciences, Sapienza University of Rome, Via Borelli 50, 00161 Rome, Italy; diletta.overi@ 123456uniroma1.it (D.O.); antonio.franchitto@ 123456uniroma1.it (A.F.); paolo.onori@ 123456uniroma1.it (P.O.); eugenio.gaudio@ 123456uniroma1.it (E.G.)
                [2 ]Department of Movement, Human and Health Sciences, Division of Health Sciences, University of Rome “Foro Italico”, Piazza Lauro de Bosis 6, 00135 Rome, Italy
                [3 ]Department of Medico-Surgical Sciences and Biotechnologies, Sapienza University of Rome, Corso della Repubblica 79, 04100 Latina, Italy; v.cardinale80@ 123456gmail.com
                [4 ]Department of Internal Medicine and Medical Specialties, Sapienza University of Rome, Viale del Policlinico 151, 00161 Rome, Italy; samira.safarikia@ 123456uniroma1.it (S.S.); domenico.alvaro@ 123456uniroma1.it (D.A.)
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: guido.carpino@ 123456uniroma1.it ; Tel./Fax: +39-06-36733-202
                © 2018 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).



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