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Open Access E-Cadherin Protects Primary Hepatocyte Spheroids From Cell Death by a Caspase-Independent Mechanism

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Cultivation of primary hepatocytes as spheroids creates an efficient three-dimensional model system for hepatic studies in vitro and as a cell source for a spheroid reservoir bioartificial liver. The mechanism of spheroid formation is poorly understood, as is an explanation for why normal, anchorage-dependent hepatocytes remain viable and do not undergo detachment-induced apoptosis, known as anoikis, when placed in suspension spheroid culture. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of E-cadherin, a calcium-dependent cell adhesion molecule, in the formation and maintenance of hepatocyte spheroids. Hepatocyte spheroids were formed by a novel rocker technique and cultured in suspension for up to 24 h. The dependence of spheroid formation on E-cadherin and calcium was established using an E-cadherin blocking antibody and a calcium chelator. We found that inhibiting E-cadherin prevented cell‐cell attachment and spheroid formation, and, surprisingly, E-cadherin inhibition led to hepatocyte death through a caspase-independent mechanism. In conclusion, E-cadherin is required for hepatocyte spheroid formation and may be responsible for protecting hepatocytes from a novel form of caspase-independent cell death.

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Keywords: Anoikis; Caspase-independent cell death; E-Cadherin; Hepatocyte spheroids

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-12-01

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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.

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