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Cell Transplant. 1993 Nov-Dec;2(6):441-52.

Extracorporeal application of a gel-entrapment, bioartificial liver: demonstration of drug metabolism and other biochemical functions.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55455.


Metabolic activity of a gel-entrapment, hollow fiber, bioartificial liver was evaluated in vitro and during extracorporeal hemoperfusion in an anhepatic rabbit model. The bioartificial liver contained either 100 million rat hepatocytes (n = 12), fibroblasts (n = 3), or no cells (n = 7) during hemoperfusion of anhepatic rabbits. Eight other anhepatic rabbits were studied without hemoperfusion as anhepatic controls, and three sham rabbits served as normal controls. Albumin production rates (mean +/- SEM) were similar during in vitro (17.0 +/- 2.8 micrograms/h) and extracorporeal (18.0 +/- 4.0 micrograms/h) application of the hepatocyte bioartificial liver. Exogenous glucose requirements were reduced (p < 0.01) and euglycemia was prolonged (p < 0.001) in anhepatic rabbits treated with the hepatocyte bioartificial liver. The maximum rate of glucose production by the hepatocyte bioartificial liver ranged from 50-80 micrograms/h. Plasma concentrations of aromatic amino acids, proline, alanine, and ammonia were normalized in anhepatic rabbits during hepatocyte hemoperfusion. Gel-entrapped hepatocytes in the bioartifical liver performed sulfation and glucuronidation of 4-methylumbelliferone. P450 activity was demonstrated during both in vitro and extracorporeal application of the BAL device by the formation of 3-hydroxy-lidocaine, the major metabolite of lidocaine biotransformation by gel-entrapped rat hepatocytes. In summary, a gel-entrapment, bioartificial liver performed multiple hepatocyte-specific functions without adverse side effects during extracorporeal application in an anhepatic, small animal model. With its potential for short term support of acute liver failure, scale-up of the current bioartificial liver device is indicated for further investigations in large animal, preclinical trials.

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