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Differentiation of Human and Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells Along a Hepatocyte Lineage

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Embryonic stem (ES) cells may differentiate along a hepatocyte lineage; however, currently there are no reports of culture conditions yielding high levels of hepatocyte-specific gene expression in these cells. We investigated culture conditions for differentiating ES cells into hepatocyte-like cells in vitro. Various combinations of culture media, growth and differentiation factors, and substratum precoatings were evaluated, and it was determined that a combination of Iscove’s modified Dulbecco’s medium with 20% fetal bovine serum, human insulin, dexamethasone, and collagen type I precoating was optimal for directing mouse ES cells along a hepatocyte lineage. Treatment of mouse ES cell with the optimal condition led to prealbumin gene expression 20% as high, and albumin synthesis 7% as high, as in mouse liver. The optimal culture condition also induced albumin gene expression in differentiated human ES cells 1% as high as in normal human hepatocytes as shown by Western blot analysis, and cells were positive for human albumin by immunocytochemistry. In addition, our optimal condition led to high levels of albumin gene expression in primary mouse hepatocytes after 35 days of culture, levels 10-fold higher than with other hepatocyte differentiation media. In conclusion, our optimal condition directed both mouse and human ES cells along a hepatocyte lineage. This represents the initial step in establishing cell lines that can be employed in cell-based therapeutics in humans and for toxicology and pharmacology studies.

Keywords: Albumin; Dexamethasone; Embryonic stem cells; Hepatocyte; Insulin

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: *Transplant Research Institute, University of California, Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, CA, 95817 2: †Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Yamaguchi University, School of Medicine, Ube, 755-8505, Japan

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

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