Hepatic progenitor cells (HPCs) appear in response to several types of chronic injury in the human and rodent liver that often develop into liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, and primary liver cancers. However, the contribution of HPCs to the pathogenesis and progression of such liver diseases remains controversial. HPCs are generally defined as cells that can differentiate into hepatocytes and cholangiocytes. In this study, however, we found that HPCs isolated from the chronically injured liver can also give rise to myofibroblasts as a third type of descendant. While myofibroblast differentiation from HPCs is not significant in culture, during tumor development, HPCs can contribute to the formation of the tumor microenvironment by producing abundant myofibroblasts that might form a niche for tumor growth and survival. Thus, HPCs can be redefined as cells with a potential for differentiation into myofibroblasts that is specifically activated during tumor formation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology