Hepatocyte replicative arrest, hepatic progenitor cells and the ductular reaction in hepatic fibrogenesis (2007–2009)
Chronic liver diseases such as hepatitis C and obesity-related fatty liver can be associated with scarring that eventually results in cirrhosis and liver failure. We are unsure why this scarring occurs, but as hepatitis and fatty liver are becoming more common it is necessary to understand this process so that effective therapies can be developed. This study looks at one possible mechanism to explain the development of liver scarring. We believe that the normal repair mechanisms of the liver lead to the production of liver cells to replace those that have died, but in some circumstances also produce small bile ducts that drain bile from the hepatocytes. These small bile ducts may have a previously unsuspected role in stimulating the scar formation. The study will see if the small bile ducts are produced in a range of liver diseases in humans, and will use rodent models to find the factors responsible for stimulating the scarring. When the process is understood more clearly, it could lead to the development of new or more effective therapies to reduce or even reverse liver scarring.