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Event Title

Liver fibrosis, N/A
Short name: Liver fibrosis, N/A

Key Event Overview

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AOPs Including This Key Event

AOP Name Event Type Essentiality
Protein Alkylation leading to Liver Fibrosis AO

Taxonomic Applicability

Name Scientific Name Evidence Links
human Homo sapiens Strong NCBI
Rattus norvegicus Rattus norvegicus Strong NCBI
mouse Mus musculus Strong NCBI

Affected Organs

Synonym Scientific Name Evidence Links

Level of Biological Organization

Biological Organization

How this Key Event works

Liver fibrosis results from perpetuation of the normal wound healing response, as a result of repeated cycles of hepatocyte injury and repair and is a dynamic process, characterised by an excessive deposition of ECM (extracellular matrix) proteins including glycoproteins, collagens, and proteoglycans. It is usually secondary to hepatic injury and inflammation, and progresses at different rates depending on the aetiology of liver disease and is also influenced by environmental and genetic factors. If fibrosis continues, it disrupts the normal architecture of the liver, altering the normal function of the organ and ultimately leading to liver damage. Cirrhosis represents the final stage of fibrosis. It is characterised by fibrous septa which divide the parenchyma into regenerative nodules which leads to vascular modifications and portal hypertension with its complications of variceal bleeding, hepatic encephalopathy, ascites, and hepatorenal syndrome. In addition, this condition is largely associated with hepatocellular carcinoma with a further increase in the relative mortality rate. [1] [2]

Liver fibrosis is an important health issue with clear regulatory relevance. The burden of disease attributable to liver fibrosis is quite high; progressive hepatic fibrosis, ultimately leading to cirrhosis, is a significant contributor to global health burden. [3] In the European Union, 0.1 % of the population is affected by cirrhosis, the most advanced stage of liver fibrosis with full architectural disturbances. [4] Besides the epidemiological relevance, liver fibrosis also imposes a considerable economic burden on society. Indeed, the only curative therapy for chronic liver failure is liver transplantation. More than 5.500 orthotopic liver transplantations are currently performed in Europe on a yearly basis, costing up to €100.000 the first year and €10.000 yearly thereafter. [5]

How it is Measured or Detected

Liver biopsy is an important part of the evaluation of patients with a variety of liver diseases. Besides establishing the diagnosis, the biopsy is often used to assess the severity of the disease. Until recently it has been assumed that fibrosis is an irreversible process, so most grading and staging systems have relatively few stages and are not very sensitive for describing changes in fibrosis. In all systems, the stages are determined by both the quantity and location of the fibrosis, with the formation of septa and nodules as major factors in the transition from one stage to the next. The absolute amount of fibrous tissue is variable within each stage, and there is considerable overlap between stages. Commonly used systems are the Knodell score with 4 stages - no fibrosis (score 0) to fibrous portal expansion (score 2) to bridging fibrosis (score 3) and Cirrhosis (score 4) – and the more sensitive Ishak fibrosis score with six stages - from no fibrosis (stage 0) over increasing fibrous expansion on portal areas (stages 1-2), bridging fibrosis (stages 3-4), and nodules (stage 5) to cirrhosis (stage 6)[6]. Liver biopsy is an invasive test with many possible complications and the potential for sampling error. Noninvasive tests become increasingly precise in identifying the amount of liver fibrosis through computer-assisted image analysis. Standard liver tests are of limited value in assessing the degree of fibrosis. Direct serologic markers of fibrosis include those associated with matrix deposition — e.g.procollagen type III amino-terminal peptide (P3NP), type I and IV collagens, laminin, hyaluronic acid, and chondrex. P3NP is the most widely studied marker of hepatic fibrosis. Other direct markers of fibrosis are those associated with matrix degradation, ie, matrix metalloproteinases 2 and 3 (MMP-2, MMP- 3) and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases 1 and 2 (TIMP-1, TIMP-2).These tests are not commercially available, and the components are not readily available in most clinical laboratories. Some indirect markers that combine several parameters are available but not very reliable. Conventional imaging studies (ultrasonography and computed tomography) are not sensitive for fibrosis. Hepatic elastography, a method for estimating liver stiffness, is a recent development in the noninvasive measurement of hepatic fibrosis. Currently, elastography can be accomplished by ultrasound or magnetic resonance. Liver biopsy is still needed if laboratory testing and imaging studies are inconclusive. [7] [8]

Evidence Supporting Taxonomic Applicability

Human:[1][2][4] Rat, mouse: [9]

Regulatory Examples Using This Adverse Outcome

From the OECD - GUIDANCE DOCUMENT ON DEVELOPING AND ASSESSING ADVERSE OUTCOME PATHWAYS - Series on Testing and Assessment 18: "...an adverse effect that is of regulatory interest (e.g. repeated dose liver fibrosis)"


  1. 1.0 1.1 Bataller, R. and D.A. Brenner (2005), Liver Fibrosis, J.Clin. Invest, vol. 115, no. 2, pp. 209-218.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Merck Manual available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hepatic_and_biliary_disorders/fibrosis_and_cirrhosis/hepatic_fibrosis.html,(accessed 10 February 2015).
  3. Lim, Y. and W. Kim (2008), The global impact of hepatic fibrosis and end-stage liver disease, Clin Liver Dis, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 733-746.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Blachier, M. et al. (2013), The burden of liver disease in Europe: a review of available epidemiological data, J Hepatol, vol. 58, no. 3, pp. 593-608.
  5. Van Agthoven, M. et al. (2001), A comparison of the costs and effects of liver transplantation for acute and for chronic liver failure. Transpl Int, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 87-94.
  6. Goodman, Z.D. (2007), Grading and staging systems for inflammation and fibrosis in chronic liver diseases, Journal of Hepatology, vol. 47, no. 4, pp. 598-607.
  7. Carey, E. (2010), Noninvasive tests for liver disease, fibrosis, and cirrhosis: Is liver biopsy obsolete? Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, vol. 77, no. 8, pp. 519-527.
  8. Germani, G. et al. (2011), Assessment of Fibrosis and Cirrhosis in Liver Biopsies, Semin Liver Dis, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 82-90. available at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/743946_2,(accessed 10 February 2015).
  9. Liedtke, C. et al. (2013), Experimental liver fibrosis research: update on animal models, legal issues and translational aspects, Fibrogenesis Tissue Repair, vol. 6, no. 1, p. 19.