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Cell Struct Funct. 2004 Jun;29(3):73-84.

Human amniotic epithelial cells possess hepatocyte-like characteristics and functions.

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  • 1Department of Organ Regeneration, Institutes of Organ Transplants, Reconstructive Medicine and Tissue Engineering, Shinshu University Graduate School of Medicine, Asahi, Matsumoto, Japan.


Hepatocyte transplantation is expected to become a novel method for treatment of liver disease. However, many questions remain regarding this approach, especially concerning donor cells. To evaluate whether human amniotic epithelial cells can be used as a cell source for hepatocyte transplantation, hepatic gene expression and functions of human amniotic epithelial cells were analyzed. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analysis demonstrated that human amniotic epithelial cells expressed albumin, alpha(1)-antitrypsin, and other hepatocyte-related genes. Cultivated human amniotic epithelial cells demonstrated albumin production, glycogen storage, and albumin secretion consistent with the hepatocyte gene expression profile. In organ culture, the amnion secreted 30-fold larger amounts of albumin than human amniotic epithelial cells in monolayer culture. Moreover, in organ culture the amnion also secreted alpha(1)-antitrypsin. Following transplantation into mice, the amnion survived and secreted albumin. These observations suggest that transplantation of human amniotic epithelial cells and/or amnion could be novel therapeutic strategy for treatment of hepatic diseases, including alpha(1)-antitrypsin deficiency.

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