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Transplant Proc. 2008 Mar;40(2):611-3. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2008.01.023.

Hepatic differentiation of embryonic stem cells in HF/organoid culture.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan.



The use of embryonic stem cells (ES cells) has recently received much attention as a novel cell source for various hybrid artificial organs. To use ES cells, it is necessary to be able to produce functional mature cells from ES cells in large quantities. We applied HF/organoid culture, where cultured cells formed cylindrical multicellular aggregates (organoids) in the lumen of hollow fibers, to mouse and cynomolgus monkey ES cells for hepatic differentiation.


ES cells were injected into hollow fibers. The hollow fibers were centrifuged to induce organoid formation and cultured in medium including factors for hepatic differentiation. To determine the characteristics of cells in the bundle, we evaluated gene expression and liver-specific functions.


ES cells immobilized inside hollow fibers proliferated and formed cylindrical organoids. In mouse ES cell cultures, the expression of mRNAs of hepatocyte-specific genes increased with culture time. Ammonia removal activity detected at 15 days increased with culture time. Albumin secretion activity detected at 12 days increased by 21 days. In cynomolgus monkey ES cell cultures, ES cells showed spontaneous ammonia removal functions. The maximum levels of these functions per unit volume of the hollow fibers were roughly comparable to those of primary hepatocyte-organoids.


ES cells differentiated into hepatocyte-like cells using the organoid culture technique. The results indicated that the combination of ES cells and an organoid culture technique was useful to obtain mature hepatocytes.

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