Liver cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide, in which hepatocellular
carcinoma (HCC) accounts for the majority. Despite the progression in treatment, the prognosis
remains extremely poor for HCC patients. The mechanisms of hepatocarcinogenesis are complex,
of which fibrosis is acknowledged as the pre-cancerous stage of HCC. Approximately, 80-90% of
HCC develops in the fibrotic or cirrhotic livers. Hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), the main effector
cells of liver fibrosis, could secret various biological contents to maintain the liver inflammation.
By decades, HSCs are increasingly correlated with HCC in the tumor microenvironment.
In this review, we summarized the underlying mechanisms that HSCs participated in the genesis
and progression of HCC. HSCs secrete various bioactive contents and regulate tumor-related pathways,
subsequently contribute to metastasis, angiogenesis, immunosuppression, chemoresistance
and cancer stemness. The study indicates that HSC plays vital roles in HCC progression, suggesting
it as a promising therapeutic target for HCC treatment.