p53 in liver pathologies—taking the good with the bad

Meital Charni, Noa Rivlin, Alina Molchadsky, Ronit Aloni-Grinstein, Varda Rotter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The distinct physiology of the liver makes it a unique ground with respect to its cross talk with p53, the “guardian of the genome.” The stressful environment in the liver frequently leads to the activation of p53, which is associated with alterations in metabolic pathways and induction of apoptosis. The latter serves as a mechanism that controls the deposal of DNA-damaged cells. However, accentuated apoptosis may eventually lead to liver pathologies, mainly steatosis, which can develop into a more severe disease such as steatohepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis. These pathologies, together with other apoptosis outcome such as chronic inflammation, may pave the way toward cancer development. In addition to this unique scenario that connects the ongoing response of wild-type (WT) p53 to stress and cancer development, hepatocarcinoma may develop in other well-described mechanisms involving p53. One such example is hepatitis virus-induced liver cancer whereby p53 is inactivated upon the binding of a specific viral protein, leading to the loss of its tumor suppressive activity. Furthermore, the accumulations of carcinogens such as aflatoxin were shown to yield an oncogenic mutated p53 protein. In this review, we will demonstrate the diverse activities of p53 in the liver. Interestingly, some of these activities may protect the liver from cancer in the short term, yet in the long term, p53 may lead to malignant transformation. A better understanding of the complex clinical outcome of p53 function in the liver may shed light on future therapies.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1229-1234
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Molecular Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - 29 Nov 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Liver pathologies
  • p53


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