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Transplanted reporter cells help in defining onset of hepatocyte proliferation during the life of F344 rats.

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  • 1Marion Bessin Liver Research Center, Cancer Research Center, and Department of Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York 10461, USA.


Transplanted hepatocytes integrate in the liver parenchyma and exhibit gene expression patterns that are similar to adjacent host hepatocytes. To determine the fate of genetically marked hepatocytes in the context of hepatocellular proliferation throughout the rodent life span, we transplanted Fischer 344 (F344) rat hepatocytes into syngeneic dipeptidyl peptidase IV-deficient rats. The proliferative activity in transplanted hepatocytes was studied in animals ranging in age from a few days to 2 yr. Transplanted hepatocytes proliferated during liver development between 1 and 6 wk of age, each dividing an estimated two to five times. DNA synthesis in occasional cells was demonstrated by localizing bromodeoxyuridine incorporation. There was no evidence for transplanted cell proliferation between 6 wk and 1 yr of age. Subsequently, transplanted cells proliferated again, with increased sizes of transplanted cell clusters at 18 and 24 mo of age. The proliferative activity of transplanted cells was greater in rats entering senescence compared with during postnatal liver development. In old rats, some liver lobules were composed entirely of transplanted cells. We conclude that hepatocyte proliferation in the livers of very young and old F344 rats is regulated in a temporally determined, biphasic manner. The findings will be relevant to mechanisms concerning liver development, senescence, and oncogenesis, as well as to cell and gene therapy.

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