CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 · Semin Liver Dis 2023; 43(01): 013-023
DOI: 10.1055/s-0042-1760306
Review Article

Update on Hepatobiliary Plasticity

Minwook Kim*
1   Department of Developmental Biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Fatima Rizvi*
2   Department of Medicine, Gastroenterology Section, Center for Regenerative Medicine, Boston University and Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
Donghun Shin
1   Department of Developmental Biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Valerie Gouon-Evans
2   Department of Medicine, Gastroenterology Section, Center for Regenerative Medicine, Boston University and Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
› Author Affiliations
Funding This work was supported by the NIH/NIDDK awards R01DK133404 to V.G-E. and D.S. and R01DK101426 and R01DK132014 to D.S.


The liver field has been debating for decades the contribution of the plasticity of the two epithelial compartments in the liver, hepatocytes and biliary epithelial cells (BECs), to derive each other as a repair mechanism. The hepatobiliary plasticity has been first observed in diseased human livers by the presence of biphenotypic cells expressing hepatocyte and BEC markers within bile ducts and regenerative nodules or budding from strings of proliferative BECs in septa. These observations are not surprising as hepatocytes and BECs derive from a common fetal progenitor, the hepatoblast, and, as such, they are expected to compensate for each other's loss in adults. To investigate the cell origin of regenerated cell compartments and associated molecular mechanisms, numerous murine and zebrafish models with ability to trace cell fates have been extensively developed. This short review summarizes the clinical and preclinical studies illustrating the hepatobiliary plasticity and its potential therapeutic application.

Publication History

Article published online:
10 February 2023

© 2023. The Author(s). This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivative-NonCommercial License, permitting copying and reproduction so long as the original work is given appropriate credit. Contents may not be used for commercial purposes, or adapted, remixed, transformed or built upon. (

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