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In Vitro Functionality of Human Fetal Liver Cells and Clonal Derivatives Under Proliferative Conditions

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Mature human hepatocytes are not suitable for large-scale in vitro applications that rely on hepatocyte function, due to their limited availability and insufficient proliferation capacity in vitro. In contrast, human fetal liver cells (HFLC) can be easily expanded in vitro. In this study we evaluated the hepatic function of HFLCs under proliferative conditions, to determine whether HFLCs can replace mature hepatocytes for in vitro applications. HFLCs were isolated from fetal livers of 16 weeks gestation. Hepatic functions of HFLCs were determined in primary culture and after expansion in vitro. Clonal derivatives were selected and tested for hepatic functionality. Results were compared to primary mature human hepatocytes in vitro. No differences were observed between primary HFLCs and mature human hepatocytes in albumin production and mRNA levels of various liver-specific genes. Ureagenesis was 4.4-fold lower and ammonia elimination was absent in HFLCs. Expanding HFLCs decreased hepatic functions and increased cell stretching. In contrast, clonal derivatives had stable functionality and morphology and responded to differentiation stimuli. Although their hepatic functions were higher than in passaged HFLCs, functionality was at least 20 times lower compared to mature human hepatocytes. HFLCs cannot replace mature human hepatocytes in in vitro applications requiring extensive in vitro expansion, because this is associated with decreased hepatic functionality. Selecting functional subpopulations can, at least partly, prevent this. In addition, defining conditions that support hepatic differentiation is necessary to obtain HFLC cultures suitable for in vitro hepatic applications.
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Keywords: Fetal; Hepatocyte; In vitro; Liver function; Proliferation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: AMC Liver Center, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands 2: AMC Liver Center, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Department of Surgery (Surgical Laboratory), Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands 3: Department of Cell Biology and Histology, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Publication date: 2006-08-01

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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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