SCIENCE CHINA Life Sciences, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11427-018-9510-3

Cellular plasticity in mammalian liver development, homeostasis, injury and disease

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A traditional view of cellular differentiation is unidirectional: progenitor cells adopt specific fates in response to environmental cues resulting in deployment of cell-specific gene expression programs and acquisition of unique differentiated cellular properties such as production of structural and functional proteins that define individual cell types. In both development and in tissue repair stem and progenitor cells are thought to both self-renew to maintain the pool of precursors and to expand to give rise to transient amplifying and differentiated cell types. Recently, however, it has become appreciated that differentiated cell types can be reprogrammed to adopt progenitor and stem cell properties. In the case of the mammalian liver, there is a significant degree of plasticity among differentiated cell types that contributes to tissue repair and if kept unchecked can lead to liver pathologies such as cancer. In this review, the role of cellular plasticity in regulating normal and abnormal tissue responses in the mammalian liver will be discussed.

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