Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), represent an attractive tool for the establishment of a successful stem-cell-based therapy of liver diseases. A number of different mechanisms contribute to the therapeutic effects exerted by MSCs, since these cells can differentiate into functional hepatic cells and can also produce a series of growth factors and cytokines able to suppress inflammatory responses, reduce hepatocyte apoptosis, regress liver fibrosis, and enhance hepatocyte functionality. To date, the infusion of MSCs or MSC-conditioned medium has shown encouraging results in the treatment of fulminant hepatic failure and in end-stage liver disease in experimental settings. However, some issues under debate hamper the use of MSCs in clinical trials. This paper summarizes the biological relevance of MSCs and the potential benefits and risks that can result from translating the MSC research to the treatment of liver diseases.
- liver injury
- mesenchymal stem cells