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Am J Pathol. 2005 Aug;167(2):555-64.

Human cord blood stem cells generate human cytokeratin 18-negative hepatocyte-like cells in injured mouse liver.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Endocrinology, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, 30623, Hannover, Germany.


Differentiation of adult bone marrow (BM) cells into nonhematopoietic cells is a rare phenomenon. Several reports, however, suggest that human umbilical cord blood (hUCB)-derived cells give rise to hepatocytes after transplantation into nonobese diabetic-severe combined immunodeficient (NOD-SCID) mice. Therefore, we analyzed the hepatic differentiation potential of hUCB cells and compared the frequency of newly formed hepatocyte-like cells in the livers of recipient NOD-SCID mice after transplantation of hUCB versus murine BM cells. Mononuclear cell preparations of hUCB cells or murine BM from enhanced green fluorescent protein transgenic or wild-type mice were transplanted into sublethally irradiated NOD-SCID mice. Liver regeneration was induced by carbon tetrachloride injury with and without subsequent hepatocyte growth factor treatment. By immunohistochemistry and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, we detected clusters of hepatocyte-like cells in the livers of hUCB-transplanted mice. These cells expressed human albumin and Hep Par 1 but mouse CK18, suggesting the formation of chimeric hepatocyte-like cells. Native fluorescence microscopy and double immunofluorescence failed to detect single hepatocytes derived from transplanted enhanced green fluorescent protein-transgenic mouse BM. Fluorescent in situ hybridization rarely revealed donor-derived hepatocyte-like cells after cross-gender mouse BM transplantation. Thus, hUCB cells have differentiation capabilities different from murine BM cells after transplantation into NOD-SCID mice, demonstrating the importance of further testing before hUCB cells can be used therapeutically.

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