Saudi Journal of Gastroenterology
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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 5-11

Involvement of epithelial-mesenchymal transition in liver fibrosis

1 Department of Infectious Diseases, Huashan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, People's Republic of China
2 Department of General Surgery, Qingdao Municipal Hospital, Qingdao, People's Republic of China

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ning Li
Department of Infectious Diseases, Huashan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai – 200040
People's Republic of China
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/sjg.SJG_297_17

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Fibrosis of the liver is an inherent wound healing response to chronic liver injury. Regeneration of liver epithelium and restoration of normal liver structure were generally involved in this process. Although the liver has a striking capacity to adapt to damage through tissue repair, excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix during this process often leads to scar tissue formation and subsequent fibrosis. Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) enables a polarized epithelial cell to undergo multiple changes biochemically and to bear a mesenchymal cell phenotype. EMT plays a critical role in tissue and organ development and embryogenesis. In the liver, it is proposed that epithelial cells can acquire fibroblastic phonotype via EMT and contribute to fibrogenesis. This made EMT a potential target for antifibrotic strategies. Following an original passion, many investigators devote themselves to exploring this mechanism in liver fibrosis. However, as research continues, this hypothesis became highly controversial. The exact contribution of EMT to fibrogenesis was challenged due to the contradictory results from related studies. In this review, we summarized the recent advances regarding EMT in hepatic fibrosis and discussed the potentially involved liver cell types and pathways in order to reach rational and helpful conclusions.

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