Hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) are a significant component of the hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tumor microenvironment (TME). Activated HSCs transform into myofibroblast-like cells to promote fibrosis in response to liver injury or chronic inflammation, leading to cirrhosis and HCC. The hepatic TME is comprised of cellular components, including activated HSCs, tumor-associated macrophages, endothelial cells, immune cells, and non-cellular components, such as growth factors, proteolytic enzymes and their inhibitors, and other extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins. Interactions between HCC cells and their microenvironment have become topics under active investigation. These interactions within the hepatic TME have the potential to drive carcinogenesis and create challenges in generating effective therapies. Current studies reveal potential mechanisms through which activated HSCs drive hepatocarcinogenesis utilizing matricellular proteins and paracrine crosstalk within the TME. Since activated HSCs are primary secretors of ECM proteins during liver injury and inflammation, they help promote fibrogenesis, infiltrate the HCC stroma, and contribute to HCC development. In this review, we examine several recent studies revealing the roles of HSCs and their clinical implications in the development of fibrosis and cirrhosis within the hepatic TME.
Recommended CitationBarry, Anna E; Baldeosingh, Rajkumar; Lamm, Ryan; Patel, Keyur; Zhang, Kai; Dominguez, Dana A; Kirton, Kayla J; Shah, Ashesh P.; and Dang, Hien, "Hepatic Stellate Cells and Hepatocarcinogenesis" (2020). Department of Surgery Faculty Papers. Paper 189.
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