Liver cell transplantation has had limited clinical success so far, partly due to poor engraftment of hepatocytes. Instead of hepatocytes. other cell types, such as endothelial cells, could be used in ex vivo liver gene therapy. The goal of the present study was to compare the grafting
and repopulation capacity of human endothelial cells derived from various tissues. Human endothelial cells were isolated from adult and fetal livers using anti-human CD31 antibody-conjugated magnetic beads. Human macrovascular endothelial cells were obtained from umbilical vein. Human microvascular
endothelial cells were isolated from adipose tissue. Cells were characterized using flow cytometry. Liver engraftment and repopulation of endothelial cells was studied after intrasplenic transplantation in monocrotaline-treated immunodeficient mice. Following transplantation, human liver endothelial
cells engrafted throughout the mouse liver. With immunoscanning electron microscopy, fenestrae in engrafted human liver endothelial cells were identified, a characteristic feature of liver sinusoidal endothelial cells. In contrast, CD31-negative liver cells, human macrovascular and microvascular
endothelial cells were not capable of repopulating mouse liver. Characterization of human liver, macrovascular, and microvascular endothelial cells demonstrated expression of CD31, CD34, and CD146 but not CD45. Our study shows that only human liver endothelial cells, but not macro- and microvascular
endothelial cells, have the unique capacity to engraft and repopulate the mouse liver. These results indicate that mature endothelial cells cannot transdifferentiate in vivo and thus do not exhibit phenotypic plasticity. Our results have set a basis for further research to the potential of
human liver endothelial cells in liver-directed cell and gene therapy.
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.