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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 860578, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2011/860578
Review Article

Therapeutic Implications of Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Liver Injury

1GI & Liver Stem Cell Research Group (GILSteR), Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, Gemelli Hospital, Largo A. Gemelli 8, 00168 Rome, Italy
2Institute of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Catholic Univeristy of the Sacred Heart, Largo F. Vito 1, 00168 Rome, Italy
3Medical Research Foundation ONLUS, Galleria falcone Borsellino 2, Bologna, Italy
4Department of Surgical Sciences, Gemelli Hospital, Largo A. Gemelli 8, 00168 Rome, Italy

Received 15 July 2011; Revised 17 October 2011; Accepted 17 October 2011

Academic Editor: Ken-ichi Isobe

Copyright © 2011 Maria Ausiliatrice Puglisi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

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.