Published online Jan 7, 2016. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v22.i1.24
Peer-review started: May 20, 2015
First decision: July 14, 2015
Revised: August 6, 2015
Accepted: October 13, 2015
Article in press: October 13, 2015
Published online: January 7, 2016
Chronic alcohol consumption is a major cause of liver disease. The term alcoholic liver disease (ALD) refers to a spectrum of mild to severe disorders including steatosis, steatohepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. With limited therapeutic options, stem cell therapy offers significant potential for these patients. In this article, we review the pathophysiologic features of ALD and the therapeutic mechanisms of multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells, also referred to as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), based on their potential to differentiate into hepatocytes, their immunomodulatory properties, their potential to promote residual hepatocyte regeneration, and their capacity to inhibit hepatic stellate cells. The perfect match between ALD pathogenesis and MSC therapeutic mechanisms, together with encouraging, available preclinical data, allow us to support the notion that MSC transplantation is a promising therapeutic strategy to manage ALD onset and progression.
Core tip: Chronic alcohol consumption is a major cause of liver disease. Stem cells, in particular multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), have been envisioned as a promising tool for the development of therapeutic strategies to treat alcoholic liver diseases (ALD). The advantages of MSC include the regulation of exacerbated inflammatory process, their differentiation into hepatocytes, the production of trophic factors that prevent the apoptosis of parenchymal cells, and the induction of the proliferation of endogenous progenitors. Here, we revise the pathophysiology of ALD to identify therapeutic targets for MSCs. Also, we discuss the rationale to propose an MSC-based therapy to treat ALD.