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The plastic cellular states of liver cells: Are EpCAM and Lgr5 fit for purpose?

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Huch, Meritxell 
Dollé, Laurent 


Adult liver cells have been considered restricted regarding their fate and lineage potential. That is, hepatocytes have been thought able only to generate hepatocytes and duct cells, only duct cells. While this may be the case for the majority of scenarios in a state of quiescence or homeostasis, evidence suggests that liver cells are capable of interconverting between cellular states of distinct phenotypic traits. This interconversion or plasticity had been suggested by classical studies using cellular markers, but recently lineage tracing approaches have proven that cells are highly plastic and retain an extraordinary ability to respond differently to normal tissue homeostasis, to tissue repair, or when challenged to expand ex vivo or to differentiate upon transplantation. Stemness, as "self-renewal and multipotency," seems not to be limited to a particular cell type but rather to a cellular state in which cells exhibit a high degree of plasticity and can move back and forth in different phenotypic states. For instance, upon damage cells can dedifferentiate to acquire stem cell potential that allows them to self-renew, repopulate a damaged tissue, and then undergo differentiation. In this review, we will discuss the evidence on cellular plasticity in the liver, focusing our attention on two markers, epithelial cell adhesion molecule and leucine-rich repeat-containing G protein-coupled receptor 5, which identify cells with stem cell potential. (Hepatology 2016;64:652-662).



Animals, Cell Plasticity, Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule, Hepatocytes, Homeostasis, Humans, Liver, Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled, Stem Cells

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Ovid Technologies (Wolters Kluwer Health)
Wellcome Trust (104151/Z/14/Z)
Medical Research Council (MC_PC_12009)
MH: is a Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale Fellow and is jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society (104151/Z/14/Z); LD: is funded by the Interuniversity Attraction Poles (IAP) - phase VII - contract P7/47 (Federal Science Policy – BELSPO).