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Open Access Decrease of Global Methylation Improves Significantly Hepatic Differentiation of Ad-MSCs: Possible Future Application for Urea Detoxification

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Hepatocyte transplantation is considered to be an alternative to orthotopic liver transplantation. Cells can be used to bridge patients waiting for a donor organ, decrease mortality in acute liver failure, and support metabolic liver diseases. The limited availability of primary human hepatocytes for such applications has led to the generation of alternative hepatocyte-like cells from various adult stem or precursor cells. The aim of this study was to generate hepatocyte-like cells from adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (Ad-MSCs) for clinical applications, which are available “off the shelf.” Epigenetic changes in hepatocyte-like cells were induced by 5-azacytidine, which, in combination with other supplements, leads to significantly improved metabolic and enzymatic activities compared to nontreated cells. Cells with sufficient hepatic features were generated with a four-step protocol: 5-azacytidine (step 1); epidermal growth factor (step 2); fibroblast growth factor-4, dexamethasone, insulin-transferrin-sodium-selenite, and nicotinamide (step 3); and hepatocyte growth factor, dexamethasone, insulin-transferrin-sodium-selenite, and nicotinamide (step 4). Generated differentiated cells had higher phase I (CYP1A1/2, CYP2E1, CYP2B6, CYP3A4) and phase II activities compared to the undifferentiated cells. A strong expression of CYP3A7 and a weak expression of 3A4, as well as the important detoxification markers α-fetoprotein and albumin, could also be detected at the mRNA level. Importantly, urea metabolism (basal, NH4-stimulated, NH4- and ornithine-stimulated) was comparable to freshly isolated human hepatocytes, and unlike cryopreserved human hepatocytes, this activity was maintained after 6 months of cryopreservation. These findings suggest that these cells may be suitable for clinical application, especially for treatment of urea cycle disorders.
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Keywords: Adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (Ad-MSCs); Cryopreservation; Differentiation; Epigenetic; Urea metabolism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Technical University Munich, MRI, Department of Trauma Surgery, Munich, Germany

Publication date: 2013-01-01

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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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