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Xenotransplantation. 2010 May-Jun;17(3):181-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3089.2010.00588.x.

Hepatocyte xenotransplantation for treating liver disease.

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  • 1Laboratório de Comunicação Celular, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


The treatment of acute and chronic liver failure is still a challenge despite modern therapeutic innovations. While liver transplantation can restore liver function and improve patient survival, donor shortages limit this treatment to a small number of patients. Cellular xenotransplantation has emerged as an alternative for treating liver failure. Xenohepatocytes could be readily available in sufficient quantities to treat patients in critical condition and thereby reduce the donor shortage. The use of isolated encapsulated or non-encapsulated cells can reduce the immunorejection response. Several studies using animal models of acute or chronic liver failure have demonstrated improved survival and recovery of liver function after xenotransplantation of adult hepatocytes. Porcine liver cells are a potential source of xenohepatocytes due to similarities with human physiology and the great number of hepatocytes that can be obtained. The recent development of less immunogenic transgenic pigs, new immunosuppressive drugs, and cellular encapsulation systems represents important advances in the field of cellular xenotransplantation. In this study, we review the work carried out in animal models that deals with the advantages and limitations of hepatocyte xenotransplantation, and we propose new studies needed in this field.

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