PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Liver transplantation is the gold standard for the treatment of end-stage liver disease. However, a shortage of donor organs, high cost, and surgical complications limit the use of this treatment. Cellular therapies using hepatocytes, hematopoietic stem cells, bone marrow mononuclear cells, and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are being investigated as alternative treatments to liver transplantation. The purpose of this review is to describe studies using MSC transplantation for liver diseases based on the reported literature and to discuss prospective research designed to improve the efficacy of MSC therapy. RECENT FINDINGS: MSCs have several properties that show potential to regenerate injured tissues or organs, such as homing, transdifferentiation, immunosuppression, and cellular protective capacity. Additionally, MSCs can be noninvasively isolated from various tissues and expanded ex vivo in sufficient numbers for clinical evaluation. SUMMARY: Currently, there is no approved MSC therapy for the treatment of liver disease. However, MSC therapy is considered a promising alternative treatment for end-stage liver diseases and is reported to improve liver function safely with no side effects. Further robust preclinical and clinical studies will be needed to improve the therapeutic efficacy of MSC transplantation.
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