Liver fibrosis is a pathophysiologic process involving the accumulation of extracellular matrix proteins as collagen deposition. Advanced liver fibrosis can evolve in cirrhosis, portal hypertension and often requires liver transplantation. At the cellular level, hepatic fibrosis involves the activation of hepatic stellate cells and their transdifferentiation into myofibroblasts. Numerous pro-fibrogenic mediators including the transforming growth factor-β1, the platelet-derived growth factor, endothelin-1, toll-like receptor 4, and reactive oxygen species are key players in this process. Knowledge of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying hepatic fibrosis development need to be extended to find novel therapeutic strategies. Antifibrotic therapies aim to inhibit the accumulation of fibrogenic cells and/or prevent the deposition of extracellular matrix proteins. Natural products from terrestrial and marine sources, including sulfur-containing compounds, exhibit promising activities for the treatment of fibrotic pathology. Although many therapeutic interventions are effective in experimental models of liver fibrosis, their efficacy and safety in humans are largely unknown. This review aims to provide a reference collection on experimentally tested natural anti-fibrotic compounds, with particular attention on sulfur-containing molecules. Their chemical structure, sources, mode of action, molecular targets, and pharmacological activity in the treatment of liver disease will be discussed.
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