Liver diseases are a global health concern that harms a large number of people each year. Liver transplantation, which is suggested as the only appropriate treatment option for severe liver diseases, is constrained by high costs and a scarcity of donor livers.
Stem cell therapy offers new hope to patients suffering from liver diseases. A wide variety of life-threatening liver diseases can be successfully treated by cell-based therapy, regardless of their different etiologies, symptoms, and physiological functions, as three decades of clinical and preclinical research have demonstrated. Some of the most commonly used cell sources for allogeneic or autologous transplantation, the two most clinically derived cells are mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and primary hepatocytes.
Here are a few applications of MSCs in various liver diseases:
Liver fibrosis is a chronic condition that can be caused by a number of factors, including viral infection, medication side effects, alcohol addiction, and immunological disorders. Through cycles of hepatocyte death, inflammation, and recurrent damage repair, chronic liver injury leads to excessive extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition. Cirrhosis is the final stage of increasing fibrosis for which there is no effective treatment. MSCs can differentiate into hepatocyte-like cells and secrete factors that control the immune system. As a result, MSCs play a role in tissue repair both directly and indirectly.
Acute Liver Failure (ALF)
Acute liver failure is characterized by loss of liver function that happens suddenly — within days or weeks — in a person who does not have any prior liver disease. A hepatitis virus or medicines like acetaminophen are the most prevalent causes. Acute liver failure is rarer than chronic liver failure, which takes longer to develop. The role of MSCs in the therapy of ALF animal models has been proven in numerous research. MSCs have been shown to minimize mortality, boost liver function, prevent hepatocyte apoptosis, and stimulate growth in hepatocytes. Some studies also suggest that stem cell therapy can have a therapeutic effect on ALF by immunoregulation. The use of MSCs in ALF is currently confined to basic research. MSCs, on the other hand, are well known for their ability to promote liver regeneration and reduce inflammation.
MSCs have been shown to be capable of spreading and integrating into tumour tissue. Nevertheless, the use of multi-origin MSCs in the treatment of liver cancer is disputed. MSCs from various sources perform different functions in liver cancer, which limits their use in clinical treatment. Due to their tumour chemotaxis abilities, immunosuppressive capabilities, and low immunogenicity, MSCs could be useful for delivering medicines or anti-tumour viruses.
In conclusion, Stem cell therapy, when combined with stem cells in the treatment of liver disease, can enhance liver function in the short term. In patients with end-stage liver disease, stem cell therapy could help them wait a little longer for a liver transplant. It can also function as a link between end-stage liver disease and liver transplantation. Recurrent stem cell therapy could be an excellent way to get protracted clinical outcomes. More controlled trials are required to figure out how stem cells work in liver disease.