Rodent Models for Assessing the Role of Stem Cells in Liver Development, Regeneration, and Carcinogenesis

  • Jennifer A. Sanders
  • Douglas C. Hixson


Hepatic stem cells residing in the adult liver are activated under conditions of severe liver injury and give rise to transient amplifying cells that have the capacity to differentiate into hepatocytes and ductal cells in order to replace functional liver mass. Rodent models have proved to be an invaluable tool for delineating the conditions that lead to stem/progenitor cell activation as well as elucidating the various populations of stem/progenitor cells that arise in the injured liver. Although the origin of hepatic stem cells remains elusive, in vivo lineage analysis has begun to identify potential candidate cell populations in adult liver. Isolation of these candidates by cell-surface markers and their subsequent transplantation has been used to assess the differentiation potential and capacity of hepatic progenitors to restore functional liver mass. In addition to the role of stem cells in liver regeneration, we will also review the contribution of these cells to the development of hepatocellular carcinoma. Finally we will discuss the future direction of the field of hepatic stem/progenitor cells and the potential therapeutic use of these cells in liver disease.



We would like to thank Kate Brilliant for assistance with the figures. Research in Jennifer Sanders’ laboratory is supported by National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P20GM103421. The previous segment of this project was supported by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) under P20 RR 017695.


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© Springer Science + Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.COBRE Center for Cancer Research Development and the Department of PediatricsRhode Island Hospital and Alpert Medical School of Brown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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