Liver cirrhosis is a slowly progressive disease in which the healthy liver tissue is affected by some environmental factors. These factors include alcohol, viral infections, and over intake of some medication like Acetaminophen which is replaced with scar tissue. This condition may prevent the normal functioning of the liver with the help of blockage that can slow down the processing of nutrients, hormones, drugs and naturally produced toxins from the body. It is also involved in a slower production of certain hormones and proteins required for digestion.
Causes of Liver Cirrhosis
Any traumatic condition that may damage the liver can result in liver cirrhosis, this may include:
- Fatty liver is associated with obesity and excessive intake of steroidal medicines
- Chronic viral infections of the liver, such as Hepatitis B, C
- A genetic blockage of the bile duct or its complete absence
- Cystic fibrosis
- Certain genetic malformations
- Prolonged exposure to environmental toxins
Symptoms of Liver Cirrhosis
The symptoms of liver cirrhosis may vary depending upon the intensity of the illness, however, some commonly associated symptoms can be
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of energy, which can be debilitating
- Weight loss or sudden weight gain
- Yellowish, itchy skin
- A brownish or orange tint in the urine
- Light-coloured stool
- Confusion, mood swings
Diagnosis of Liver Cirrhosis
In general, the condition can be diagnosed with a physical examination or blood tests, however, a liver biopsy can also be performed to find out the level of tissue scarring. Although liver cirrhosis is generally referred to as the chronic stage of liver failure. So far, liver transplantation with a matched donor is the only possible alternative for liver failure.
Stem Cell Therapy for Liver Cirrhosis
With the advent of stem cell technology, some positive changes have been observed in patients who have been suffering from diseases. Stem cells are the naïve cells of the body, which can be differentiated to become any cells if treated in proper condition. This remarkable potential of stem cells has been exploited by medical science as a possible cure for a variety of debilitating diseases. Researchers have observed positive differentiation of stem cells in hepatic lineages.
Using stem cells for treating liver failure or liver cirrhosis is still at a very nascent stage, however, patients have expressed positive signs after treatment. The stem cells can be harvested in limited numbers from potent sources such as Bone Marrow or Adipose Tissue. These stem cells can be injected back into the body at the targeted place. These stem cells then can be differentiated into liver cells with the help of certain growth factors and immunological factors such as cytokines. The stem cell injection can also be coupled with stem cell stimulation therapy, wherein resident stem cells are stimulated to multiply and differentiate inside the body as a booster effect. The major advantage of these stem cells is that since they have come from the patient’s own body sources, there are no chances of their rejection or other infections.