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PloS one

Enhanced hepatogenic transdifferentiation of human adipose tissue mesenchymal stem cells by gene engineering with Oct4 and Sox2.


PMID 25815812

Abstract

Adipose tissue mesenchymal stem cells (ATMSCs) represent an attractive tool for the establishment of a successful stem cell-based therapy in the field of liver regeneration medicine. ATMSCs overexpressing Oct4 and Sox2 (Oct4/Sox2-ATMSCs) showed enhanced proliferation and multipotency. Hence, we hypothesized that Oct4 and Sox2 can increase "transdifferentiation" of ATMSCs into cells of the hepatic lineage. In this study, we generated Oct4- and Sox2-overexpressing human ATMSCs by liposomal transfection. We confirmed the expression of mesenchymal stem cell surface markers without morphological alterations in both red-fluorescent protein (RFP) (control)- and Oct4/Sox2-ATMSCs by flow cytometry. After induction of differentiation into hepatocyte-like cells, the morphology of ATMSCs changed and they began to appear as round or polygonal epithelioid cells. Hepatic markers were evaluated by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and confirmed by immunofluorescence. The results showed that albumin was strongly expressed in hepatogenic differentiated Oct4/Sox2-ATMSCs, whereas the expression level of α-fetoprotein was lower than that of RFP-ATMSCs. The functionality of hepatocytes was evaluated by periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) staining and urea assays. The number of PAS-positive cells was significantly higher and urea production was significantly higher in Oct4/Sox2-ATMSCs compared to that in RFP-ATMSCs. Taken together, the hepatocyte-like cells derived from Oct4/Sox2-ATMSCs were mature hepatocytes, possibly functional hepatocytes with enhanced capacity to store glycogen and produce urea. In this study, we demonstrated the enhanced transdifferentiation of Oct4- and Sox2-overexpressing ATMSCs into hepatocyte-like cells that have enhanced hepatocyte-specific functions. Therefore, we expect that Oct4/Sox2-ATMSCs may become a very useful source for hepatocyte regeneration or liver cell transplantation.

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