Liver cirrhosis is a condition in which the functions of the liver and impaired due to prolonged damage to the organ. Cirrhosis is the late stage of scarring of the liver, which could be caused by various conditions. This disease doesn’t develop in one day, but it occurs slowly over months and years. Generally, patients do not present with any kind of symptoms in the initial stage. However, they start manifesting as the disease advances. Some of the signs and symptoms presented by the patient include fatigue itchiness; patients get easily bruised, patients might develop a spider-like blood vessel appearance on their skin, accumulation of food in their abdomen, infections and so on. Complications that might occur due to this disease include hepatic encephalopathy, liver cancer, dilation of the veins in the throat and so on. The most prominent causes of liver cirrhosis include prolonged and excessive consumption of alcohol, infections such as Hepatitis B and C, non-fatty alcoholic diseases and so on. The non-alcoholic fatty disease is mostly caused by obesity, hypertension, high level of blood fat, autoimmunity, hemochromatosis and so on. Physicians diagnose this disease by examining the complaints of the patient. This includes evaluating the signs and symptoms. Also, other tests such as CT scan, X-ray are also carried. The biopsy of the liver might also be done, to confirm the diagnosis. Some of the diseases that lead to liver cirrhosis can be prevented.
An example of this is hepatitis B, one of the most common causes of liver cirrhosis. There are vaccinations that help to prevent the development of this disease. The treatment of this disease largely depends on the cause, however, the goal of treatment, is to reduce the progression and complications of the disease. Also, avoiding factors that could worsen the disease also helps. This includes avoiding excess consumption of alcohol and so on. Stem cell therapy has a lot of potentials and has seemed to be a good alternative to the current method of treating liver diseases.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms Of Liver Cirrhosis?
Persons affected with liver cirrhosis do present with various signs and symptoms. This is because the liver has a lot of functions. Any impairment of the liver would also affect its functions. Below are some of the common signs and symptoms of the disease:
- Development of spider-like appearance on the blood vessels: This is also known as spider angiomata. It’s a condition in which the spider-like look appears on the vessels. This occurs mainly because of the increase in estradiol. Studies have shown that this occurs in one of three patients.
- Palmar erythema: This is a condition in which the palms of the becomes abnormally red. This mostly affects the thenar and hypothenar eminences. It also occurs due to the increase in estrogen.
- Changes in the size of the liver: The liver does change size. It could become enlarged, remain normal, or shrink.
- Gynecomastia: This mostly occurs in men, and it’s a condition in which the size of their breast, becomes abnormally big. However, this is not cancerous, and it occurs due to the increased amount of blood estradiol. Studies have shown that this occurs in two of three patients. This condition is different to the type that occurs in overweight and obese people.
- Hypogonadism: This is a condition in which the male sex hormones reduce. Subsequently, affected persons become impotent, infertile, and lose their libido. Other conditions that might also occur include testicular atrophy, and the suppression of the pituitary function.
- Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen: This condition is also known as ascites. It occurs when fluid accumulates in the peritoneal cavity — the space around the abdomen.
- Jaundice: This is one of the most common symptoms of this disease. The patient would present with yellow discoloration of the mucous membrane and the skin. The patient’s urine might also become dark.
- Hepatic encephalopathy: This is one of the complications of liver cirrhosis, and it occurs mostly because of the accumulation of ammonia and other nitrogenous materials from the blood. They affect impair the function of the brain because they get transported to the brain through the blood.
What Are The Causes Of Liver Cirrhosis?
Liver cirrhosis can be caused by different conditions. Some of the conditions that could lead to liver cirrhosis include the following:
- Infections: Infections such as Hepatitis B and C can lead to liver cirrhosis, especially if they are not well managed.
- Cystic fibrosis.
- Alcohol consumption: The prolonged and excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to the development of liver cirrhosis.
- Primary biliary cirrhosis: This is a condition in which the biliary duct system is damaged. This can lead to the fibrosis of the liver if not well treated.
- Medications: There are some medications that could lead to the development of liver cirrhosis. Examples of these drugs include methotrexate and isoniazid.
- Biliary atresia: This is a condition that mostly occurs in children. It causes the obstruction, or abnormally narrowing of the biliary system. It could lead to liver cirrhosis if not well managed,
- Autoimmune disease: An autoimmune disease is one in which the body immune system fails to recognize a certain body tissue, and starts attacking it. The immune system treats the body tissue like it’s a foreign substance, and unleashes its defense and attack mechanism on it. This is what happens in autoimmune hepatitis. The body T cells attack the liver, causing the various level of inflammation, and leading to scarring, and eventually liver cirrhosis.
Stem Cell Therapy For Liver Cirrhosis
Studies as old as two decades has shown that liver cells can be grown from stem cells. This goes to show how advanced liver stem cell therapy is. Stem cells extracted from adipose tissues have proved efficient in the treatment of liver diseases. There are no complications such as rejection, like in liver transplantation. This is because the stem cells would be extracted from the patient. The stem cells are capable of differentiating and replacing damaged cells. Also, they can repair injured tissues. Also, stem cells have immune modulatory functions, reducing the action of autoantibodies especially in autoimmune hepatitis.
Dickson, I. (2017). Stem cells: Stem cell therapy for liver cirrhosis unrealistic?. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 15(1), pp.4-4.
Grompe, M. (2014). Liver Stem Cells, Where Art Thou?. Cell Stem Cell, 15(3), pp.257-258.
Rajaram, R., Subramani, B., Abdullah, B. and Mahadeva, S. (2017). Mesenchymal stem cell therapy for advanced liver cirrhosis: A case report. JGH Open, 1(4), pp.153-155.Get More Stem Cell Information at iSTEMCELL