Apoptosis as a mechanism for liver disease progression

Maria Eugenia Guicciardi, Gregory J. Gores

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


Hepatocyte injury is ubiquitous in clinical practice, and the mode of cell death associated with this injury is often apoptosis, especially by death receptors. Information from experimental systems demonstrates that hepatocyte apoptosis is sufficient to cause liver hepatic fibrogenesis. The mechanisms linking hepatocyte apoptosis to hepatic fibrosis remain incompletely understood, but likely relate to engulfment of apoptotic bodies by professional phagocytic cells and stellate cells, and release of mediators by cells undergoing apoptosis. Inhibition of apoptosis with caspase inhibitors has demonstrated beneficial effects in murine models of hepatic fibrosis. Recent studies implicating Toll-like receptor 9 in liver injury and fibrosis are also of particular interest. Engulfment of apoptotic bodies is one mechanism by which the TLR9 ligand (CpG DNA motifs) could be delivered to this intracellular receptor. These concepts suggest therapy focused on interrupting the cellular mechanisms linking apoptosis to fibrosis would be useful in human liver diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)402-410
Number of pages9
JournalSeminars in liver disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010


  • Bcl-2 proteins
  • Toll-like receptor 9
  • caspase inhibitors
  • death receptors
  • stellate cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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