Investigation of liver fibrosis in clinical practice

2005 Hepatology Research 32, 1 (1-8)

The liver is composed of different hepatic fibrogenic cells: hepatic stellate cells, portal fibroblasts, fibroblasts of the Glisson capsule surrounding the liver and vascular smooth muscle cells and the second layer cells present around centrolobular veins. During liver disease, one or several populations of these cells are activated, transformed into myofibroblasts and secrete the extra-cellular matrix. There are markers to identify hepatic stellate cells either quiescent (CRBP-1) or activated (alpha-smooth muscle actin). Liver biopsy, the current "gold-standard" to estimate liver fibrosis cannot be used anymore as a "gold standard". Furthermore, it is a costly procedure with adverse effects feared by patients and clinicians. Alternative to liver biopsy using non-invasive-tests or technics include FibroTest-ActiTest, transient-elastography, hepatic vein transit time using contrast ultrasonography, magnetic resonance imaging. As a routine test, the FibroTest-ActiTest is a validated one for patients with chronic hepatitis C. The advantage of the non-invasive tests or technics is that they provide a rapid and quantitative estimation of fibrosis. With these new methods, it is possible to follow the progression of the disease and its regression either spontaneously or under treatment. In conclusion, clinicians have in their hands several painless tools to explore liver fibrosis that can be easily repeated.

Pubmed : 15866513