Stem cell research & therapy

Efficient large-scale generation of functional hepatocytes from mouse embryonic stem cells grown in a rotating bioreactor with exogenous growth factors and hormones.

PMID 24294908


Embryonic stem (ES) cells are considered a potentially advantageous source of hepatocytes for both transplantation and the development of bioartificial livers. However, the efficient large-scale generation of functional hepatocytes from ES cells remains a major challenge, especially for those methods compatible with clinical applications. In this study, we investigated whether a large number of functional hepatocytes can be differentiated from mouse ES (mES) cells using a simulated microgravity bioreactor. mES cells were cultured in a rotating bioreactor in the presence of exogenous growth factors and hormones to form embryoid bodies (EBs), which then differentiated into hepatocytes. During the rotating culture, most of the EB-derived cells gradually showed the histologic characteristics of normal hepatocytes. More specifically, the expression of hepatic genes and proteins was detected at a higher level in the differentiated cells from the bioreactor culture than in cells from a static culture. On further growing, the EBs on tissue-culture plates, most of the EB-derived cells were found to display the morphologic features of hepatocytes, as well as albumin synthesis. In addition, the EB-derived cells grown in the rotating bioreactor exhibited higher levels of liver-specific functions, such as glycogen storage, cytochrome P450 activity, low-density lipoprotein, and indocyanine green uptake, than did differentiated cells grown in static culture. When the EB-derived cells from day-14 EBs and the cells’ culture supernatant were injected into nude mice, the transplanted cells were engrafted into the recipient livers. Large quantities of high-quality hepatocytes can be generated from mES cells in a rotating bioreactor via EB formation. This system may be useful in the large-scale generation of hepatocytes for both cell transplantation and the development of bioartificial livers.

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Resorufin pentyl ether