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Transplant Proc. 2010 Jun;42(5):1907-14. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2010.01.061.

Transplantation of immortalized human fetal hepatocytes prevents acute liver failure in 90% hepatectomized mice.

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Institute of Infectious Diseases, Southwest Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China.



The aim of this study was to investigate whether human fetal hepatocytes are amenable to simian virus 40 large T-antigen (SV40Tag) mediated immortalization and whether the immortalized cells rescue mice with acute liver failure induced by 90% hepatectomy.


We constructed a retroviral vector expressing a thermolabile mutant SV40Tag for transfer into primary human fetal hepatocytes. We quantitatively detected the synthetic ability for albumin and urea by the immortalized cells, which were subcutaneously inoculated into mice with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) to evaluate tumorigenzcity. The immortalized cells were also transplanted into the spleens of mice with acute liver failure.


One clone resulting after selection, referred to as HepCL, was highly differentiated, growing steadily in a chemically defined serum-free medium. HepCL cells were positive for albumin, cytokeratin 18, and cytokeratin 19 immunocytochemical staining. The average synthetic efficacies of HepCL cells for albumin and urea were comparable to that of unmodified primary human fetal hepatocytes. The population doubling time of HepCL cells in the logarithmic growth phase was approximately 17 hours. HepCL cells showed no oncogenicity in immunodeficient mice at 16 months. Mice receiving HepCL cells (G1) and primary human fetal hepatocytes (G2) showed significantly lower blood ammonia levels after 90% hepatectomy. Pairwise comparisons between the 4 groups showed that xenotransplantation of HepCL (G1) or primary fetal hepatocytes (G2) significantly improved survivals of recipient mice.


HepCL may be useful as a source of hepatic function for cell-based therapeutics in acute liver failure.

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