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Gastroenterology. 2005 Jun;128(7):1774-86.

Differentiation of in vitro-modified human peripheral blood monocytes into hepatocyte-like and pancreatic islet-like cells.

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Department of General and Thoracic Surgery, University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel, Germany.



Adult stem cells provide a promising alternative for the treatment of diabetes mellitus and end-stage liver diseases. We evaluated the differentiation potential of human peripheral blood monocytes into hepatocyte-like and pancreatic islet-like cells.


Monocytes were treated with macrophage colony-stimulating factor and interleukin 3 for 6 days, followed by incubation with hepatocyte and pancreatic islet-specific differentiation media. Cells were characterized by flow cytometry, gene-expression analysis, metabolic assays, and transplantation for their state of differentiation and tissue-specific functions.


In response to macrophage colony-stimulating factor and interleukin 3, monocytes resumed cell division in a CD115-dependent fashion, which was associated with a down-regulation of the PRDM1 and ICSBP genes. These programmable cells of monocytic origin were capable of differentiating into neohepatocytes, which closely resemble primary human hepatocytes with respect to morphology, expression of hepatocyte markers, and specific metabolic functions. After transplantation into the liver of severe combined immunodeficiency disease/nonobese diabetic mice, neohepatocytes integrated well into the liver tissue and showed a morphology and albumin expression similar to that of primary human hepatocytes transplanted under identical conditions. Programmable cells of monocytic origin-derived pancreatic neoislets expressed beta cell-specific transcription factors, secreted insulin and C peptide in a glucose-dependent manner, and normalized blood glucose levels when xenotransplanted into immunocompetent, streptozotocin-treated diabetic mice. Programmable cells of monocytic origin retained monocytic characteristics, notably CD14 expression, a monocyte-specific methylation pattern of the CD115 gene, and expression of the transcription factor PU.1.


The ability to reprogram, expand, and differentiate peripheral blood monocytes in large quantities opens the real possibility of the clinical application of programmable cells of monocytic origin in tissue repair and organ regeneration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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