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Methods Mol Biol. 2010;640:41-55. doi: 10.1007/978-1-60761-688-7_2.

Human foetal hepatocytes: isolation, characterization, and transplantation.

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  • 1INSERM U972, Université Paris-Sud, Hôpital Kremlin-Bicêtre, Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, France.


Hepatocyte transplantation has become an alternative to orthotopic liver transplantation for the treatment of liver metabolic diseases. However, there is an increasing lack of donor organs and isolated mature hepatocytes are difficult to manipulate and cannot be expanded in vitro. It is therefore necessary to find alternative sources of hepatocytes, and different approaches to evaluate the therapeutic potential of stem cells of different origins are being developed. Hepatic progenitors (hepatoblasts) and/or foetal hepatocytes isolated from foetal livers may be one potential source to generate fully differentiated hepatocytes. We have reported that human foetal liver cells can be isolated and cultured. These cells also engraft and differentiate into mature hepatocytes in situ after transplantation into immunodeficient mice. Foetal cell populations could also be used as targets for gene therapy since efficient gene transfer is achieved with retroviral vectors. Use of such experimental approaches will help design strategies for clinical applications of liver cell therapy with hepatic progenitors.

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