Hepatic fibrosis is the consequence of an unresolved wound healing process in response to chronic liver injury and involves multiple cell types and molecular mechanisms. The hepatic endocannabinoid and apelin systems are two signalling pathways with a substantial role in the liver fibrosis pathophysiology—both are upregulated in patients with advanced liver disease. Endogenous cannabinoids are lipid-signalling molecules derived from arachidonic acid involved in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular dysfunction, portal hypertension, liver fibrosis, and other processes associated with hepatic disease through their interactions with the CB1
receptors. Apelin is a peptide that participates in cardiovascular and renal functions, inflammation, angiogenesis, and hepatic fibrosis through its interaction with the APJ receptor. The endocannabinoid and apelin systems are two of the multiple cell-signalling pathways involved in the transformation of quiescent hepatic stellate cells into myofibroblast like cells, the main matrix-producing cells in liver fibrosis. The mechanisms underlying the control of hepatic stellate cell activity are coincident despite the marked dissimilarities between the endocannabinoid and apelin signalling pathways. This review discusses the current understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which the hepatic endocannabinoid and apelin systems play a significant role in the pathophysiology of liver fibrosis.
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