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Open Access Generation of Hepatocyte-Like Cells From In Vitro Transdifferentiated Human Fetal Pancreas

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Although the appearance of hepatic foci in the pancreas has been described in animal experiments and in human pathology, evidence for the conversion of human pancreatic cells to liver cells is still lacking. We therefore investigated the developmental plasticity between human embryonic pancreatic cells and liver cells. Cells were isolated and expanded from 7‐8-week-old human fetal pancreata (HFP) and were characterized for the absence and presence of pancreatic and hepatic markers. In vitro expanded HFP were treated with fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) and dexamethasone (DX) to induce a liver phenotye in the cells. These treated cells in various passages were further studied for their capacity to be functional in hepatic parenchyma following retrorsine-induced injury in nude C57 black mice. Amylase- and EPCAM-positive-enriched cells isolated from HFP and treated with FGF2 and DX lost expression of pancreatic markers and gained a liver phenotype. Hepatic differentiation was based on the expression (both at the mRNA and protein level) of liver markers albumin and cytokeratin 19. When transplanted in vivo into nude mice treated with retrorsine, both cell types successfully engrafted and functionally differentiated into hepatic cells expressing human albumin, glycogen, dipeptidyl peptidase, and -glutamyltranspeptidase. These data indicate that human fetal pancreatic cells have a capacity to alter their gene expression profile in response to exogenous treatment with FGF2 and DX. It may be possible to generate an unlimited supply of hepatocytes in vitro for cell therapy.

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Keywords: Cholangiocytes; Dexamethasone; Fibroblast growth factor; Hepatocytes; Retrorsine

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-02-01

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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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