fully activated human HSCs/MFbs did not undergo spontaneous apoptosis and survived to prolonged serum deprivation, Fas activation, or exposure to nerve growth factor, tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), oxidative stress mediators, doxorubicin, and etoposide. Induction of caspase dependent, mitochondria driven apoptosis in HSC/MFs was observed only when protein synthesis or transcription were inhibited. Importantly, the process of HSC activation was accompanied by changes in expression of a set of genes involved in apoptosis control. In particular, activated human HSCs/MFbs in culture overexpressed Bcl-2. The role of Bcl-2 was crucial as Bcl-2 silenced cells became susceptible to TNF-alpha induced apoptosis. Finally, Bcl-2 was markedly expressed in HSC/MFs present in liver tissue obtained from patients with hepatitis C virus related cirrhosis.