PloS one

Human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells and derived hepatocyte-like cells exhibit similar therapeutic effects on an acute liver failure mouse model.

PMID 25101638


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have exhibited therapeutic effects in multiple animal models so that are promising liver substitute for transplantation treatment of end-stage liver diseases. However, it has been shown that over-manipulation of these cells increased their tumorigenic potential, and that reducing the in vitro culture time could minimize the risk. In this study, we used a D-galactosamine plus lipopolysaccharide (Gal/LPS)-induced acute liver failure mouse model, which caused death of about 50% of the mice with necrosis of more than 50% hepatocytes, to compare the therapeutic effects of human umbilical cord MSCs (hUCMSCs) before and after induction of differentiation into hepatocyte (i-Heps). Induction of hUCMSCs to become i-Heps was achieved by treatment of the cells with a group of growth factors within 4 weeks. The resulted i-Heps exhibited a panel of human hepatocyte biomarkers including cytokeratin (hCK-18), α-fetoprotein (hAFP), albumin (hALB), and hepatocyte-specific functions glycogen storage and urea metabolism. We demonstrated that transplantation of both cell types through tail vein injection rescued almost all of the Gal/LPS-intoxicated mice. Although both cell types exhibited similar ability in homing at the mouse livers, the populations of the hUCMSCs-derived cells, as judged by expressing hAFP, hCK-18 and human hepatocyte growth factor (hHGF), were small. These observations let us to conclude that the hUCMSCs was as effective as the i-Heps in treatment of the mouse acute liver failure, and that the therapeutic effects of hUCMSCs were mediated largely via stimulation of host hepatocyte regeneration, and that delivery of the cells through intravenous injection was effective.