Developing a new therapy utilizing stem cells and their derivatives based on basic understandings of organ development, regeneration and diseases.

About Research

From liver stem cell biology to stem cell therapy

The liver is an essential organ for life with a multitude of critical
functions such as metabolism and detoxification, and is also renowned
for its tremendous regenerative activity. We are trying to elucidate
cellular and molecular frameworks for development, homeostasis, and
regeneration of the liver, taking advantage of our originally developed
methods to isolate and culture liver stem/progenitor cells (LPCs) and
other types of liver component cells, and also of our knowledge and
expertise on the mechanisms for cell-to-cell interactions including
cytokine signaling. We have recently revealed that the activation of
LPCs under various conditions of liver injury essentially represents
dynamic and adaptive remodeling of the intrahepatic biliary epithelial
tissue “( biliary remodeling”), a phenomenon which likely constitutes
the basis for robust liver regeneration. The underlying regulatory
mechanisms for as well as the modes of action of the biliary remodeling
are currently under extensive investigation, which contributes to future
development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies to tackle
liver diseases. Based on our understanding of the mechanistic basis for
liver pathogenesis and regeneration, we are also studying the efficacy
and the modes of action of mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs)
and their derivatives to treat various disorders in the liver and other
organs, with a primary focus on fibrotic diseases such as liver cirrhosis.



  1. Okada H, Yamada M, Kamimoto K, Kok CY, Kaneko K, Ema M, Miyajima A, Itoh T. The transcription factor Klf5 is essential for intrahepatic biliary epithelial tissue remodeling after cholestatic liver injury. J Biol Chem. 2018 Apr 27;293(17):6214-6229. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.002372.
  2. Katsumata LW, Miyajima A, Itoh T. Portal fibroblasts marked by the surface antigen Thy1 contribute to fibrosis in mouse models of cholestatic liver injury. Hepatol Commun. 2017 Mar 22;1(3):198-214. doi: 10.1002/hep4.1023.
  3. Kamimoto K, Kaneko K, Kok CY, Okada H, Miyajima A, Itoh T. Heterogeneity and stochastic growth regulation of biliary epithelial cells dictate dynamic epithelial tissue remodeling. Elife. 2016 Jul 19;5. pii: e15034. doi: 10.7554/eLife.15034.
  4. Kaneko K, Kamimoto K, Miyajima A, Itoh T. Adaptive remodeling of the biliary architecture underlies liver homeostasis. Hepatology. 2015 Jun;61(6):2056-66. doi: 10.1002/hep.27685.
  5. Miyajima A, Tanaka M, Itoh T. Stem/progenitor cells in liver development, homeostasis, regeneration, and reprogramming. Cell Stem Cell. 2014 May1;14(5):561-74. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2014.04.010.
Atsushi Miyajima
Project Professor
Tohru Itoh
Project Associate Professor
Taketomo Kido
Project Lecturer