Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol 2017 Apr 24;31(2):129-141. Epub 2017 Apr 24.
Department of Internal Medicine III, RWTH Aachen University Hospital, Aachen, Germany.
In chronic liver diseases, an ongoing hepatocellular injury together with inflammatory reaction results in activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) and increased deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM) termed as liver fibrosis. It can progress to cirrhosis that is characterized by parenchymal and vascular architectural changes together with the presence of regenerative nodules. Even at late stage, liver fibrosis is reversible and the underlying mechanisms include a switch in the inflammatory environment, elimination or regression of activated HSCs and degradation of ECM. While animal models have been indispensable for our understanding of liver fibrosis, they possess several important limitations and need to be further refined. A better insight into the liver fibrogenesis resulted in a large number of clinical trials aiming at reversing liver fibrosis, particularly in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. Collectively, the current developments demonstrate that reversal of liver fibrosis is turning from fiction to reality.