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Hepatocyte Transplantation in the Long Evans Cinnamon Rat Model of Wilson's Disease

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Wilson's disease (WD), caused by a mutation in the P-type copper transporting ATPase (Atp7b) gene, results in excessive accumulation of copper in the liver. Long Evans Cinnamon rats (LEC) bear a mutation in the atp7b gene and share clinical characteristics of human WD. To explore hepatocyte transplantation (HT) as therapy for metabolic liver diseases, 8-week-old LEC rats (n = 12) were transplanted by intrasplenic injection of hepatocytes from donor Long Evans (LE) rats. Immunosuppression was maintained with intraperitoneal tacrolimus. The success of HT was monitored at 24 weeks of life. Serum aminotransferases and bilirubin peaked at 14–21 weeks in both HT rats and nontransplanted controls, but at 24 weeks, survival was 97% in LEC-HT versus 63% in controls. All transplanted rats showed restored biliary copper excretion and reduced liver iron concentration associated with increased ceruloplasmin oxidase activity. Liver tissue expressed atp7b mRNA (11.9 ± 13.6%) indicative of engraftment of normal cells in 7 of 12 HT rats, associated with a reduced liver copper concentration compared to untreated LEC rats. Periportal islets of normal appearing hepatocytes, recognized by atp7b antibody, were observed in transplanted livers while lobular host cells showed persistent pleomorphic changes and inflammatory infiltrates. In conclusion, transplantation of normal hepatocytes prevented fulminant hepatitis, reduces chronic inflammation, and improved 6-month survival in LEC rats. Engraftment of transplanted cells, which express atp7b mRNA, repopulated the recipient liver with normal functional capacity.
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Keywords: Hepatocyte transplantation; LEC rat; Wilson's disease

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Pediatrics, Hôpital Sainte-Justine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Qc, Canada 2: Department of Surgery, Hôpital Sainte-Justine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Qc, Canada 3: Department of Pathology, Hôpital Sainte-Justine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Qc, Canada

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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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.

    Cell Transplantation is now being published by SAGE. Please visit their website for the most recent issues.

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