The Role of Bone Marrow Stem Cells in Liver Regeneration

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89 Scopus citations


Hepatic oval cells involved in some forms of liver regeneration express many markers also found on hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). In addition, multiple independent reports have demonstrated that bone marrow cells can give rise to several hepatic epithelial cell types, including oval cells, hepatocytes, and duct epithelium. These observations have resulted in the hypothesis that bone marrow resident stem cells, specifically HSCs, are an important source for liver epithelial cell replacement, particularly during chronic injury. The function of such stem cells in hepatic injury responses is the topic of this article. Taken together, the published data on the role of bone marrow stem cells in liver damage suggest that they do not play a significant physiological role in the replacement of epithelial cells in any known form of hepatic injury. Fully functional bone marrow-derived hepatocytes exist but are extremely rare and are generated by cell fusion, not stem cell differentiation. Nonetheless, bone marrow-derived cells may play important indirect roles in liver regeneration. First, they may serve as a source for the replacement of endothelial cells. Second, hematopoietic cells, including lymphocytes, neutrophils, macrophages, and platelets, may provide crucial factors required for efficient healing of damaged liver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-371
Number of pages9
JournalSeminars in Liver Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2003


  • Bone marrow-derived hepatocyte
  • Hematopoietic stem cell
  • Liver injury
  • Liver stem cell
  • Stem cell plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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