Scar formation inhibits tissue repair and regeneration in the liver and central nervous system. Activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) after liver injury or of astrocytes after nervous system damage is considered to drive scar formation. HSCs are the fibrotic cells of the liver, as they undergo activation and acquire fibrogenic properties after liver injury. HSC activation has been compared to reactive gliosis of astrocytes, which acquire a reactive phenotype and contribute to scar formation after nervous system injury, much like HSCs after liver injury. It is intriguing that a wide range of neuroglia-related molecules are expressed by HSCs. We identified an unexpected role for the p75 neurotrophin receptor in regulating HSC activation and liver repair. Here we discuss the molecular mechanisms that regulate HSC activation and reactive gliosis and their contributions to scar formation and tissue repair. Juxtaposing key mechanistic and functional similarities in HSC and astrocyte activation might provide novel insight into liver regeneration and nervous system repair
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