Liver fibrosis, the main characteristic of chronic liver diseases, is strongly associated with the activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), which are responsible for extracellular matrix production. As such, investigating the effective regulators controlling HSC activation provides important clues for developing therapeutics to inhibit liver fibrosis. Thymosin beta 4 (Tβ4), a major actin-sequestering protein, is known to be involved in various cellular responses. A growing body of evidence suggests that Tβ4 has a potential role in the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis and that it is especially associated with the activation of HSCs. However, it remains unclear whether Tβ4 promotes or suppresses the activation of HSCs. Herein, we review the potential role of Tβ4 in liver fibrosis by describing the effects of exogenous and endogenous Tβ4, and we discuss the possible signaling pathway regulated by Tβ4. Exogenous Tβ4 reduces liver fibrosis by inhibiting the proliferation and migration of HSCs. Tβ4 is expressed endogenously in the activated HSCs, but this endogenous Tβ4 displays opposite effects in HSC activation, either as an activator or an inhibitor. Although the role of Tβ4 has not been established, it is apparent that Tβ4 influences HSC activation, suggesting that Tβ4 is a potential therapeutic target for treating liver diseases.
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