Contribution of bone marrow-derived fibrocytes to liver fibrosis
Since the discovery of fibrocytes in 1994 by Dr. Bucala and colleagues, these bone marrow (BM)- derived collagen Type I producing CD45+ cells remain the most fascinating cells of the hematopoietic system. Despite recent reports on the emerging contribution of fibrocytes to fibrosis of parenchymal and nonparenchymal organs and tissues, fibrocytes remain the most understudied pro-fibrogenic cellular population. In the past years fibrocytes were implicated in the pathogenesis of liver, skin, lung, and kidney fibrosis by giving rise to collagen Type I producing cells/myofibroblasts. Hence, the role of fibrocytes in fibrosis is not well defined since different studies often contain controversial results on the number of fibrocytes recruited to the site of injury versus the number of fibrocyte-derived myofibroblasts in the same fibrotic organ. Furthermore, many studies were based on the in vitro characterization of fibrocytes formed after outgrowth of BM and/or peripheral blood cultures. Therefore, the fibrocyte function(s) still remain(s) lack of understanding, mostly due to (I) the lack of mouse models that can provide complimentary in vivo real-time and cell fate mapping studies of the dynamic differentiation of fibrocytes and their progeny into collagen Type I producing cells (and/or possibly, other cell types of the hematopoietic system); (II) the complexity of hematopoietic cell differentiation pathways in response to various stimuli; (III) the high plasticity of hematopoietic cells. Here we summarize the current understanding of the role of CD45+ Collagen Type I+ BM-derived cells in the pathogenesis of liver injury. Based on data obtained from various organs undergoing fibrogenesis or other type of chronic injury, here we also discuss the most recent evidence supporting the critical role of fibrocytes in the mediation of pro-fibrogenic and/or pro-inflammatory responses.