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Hepatobiliary Pancreat Dis Int. 2012 Aug 15;11(4):360-71.

Hepatocyte differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells.

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Center for Organ Transplantation, Department of General Surgery, Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200025, China.



Liver cell transplantation and bioartificial liver may provide metabolic support of liver function temporary and are prospective treatments for patients with liver failure. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are expected to be an ideal cell source for transplantation or liver tissue engineering, however the hepatic differentiation of MSCs is still insufficient for clinical application.


A PubMed search on "mesenchymal stem cells", "liver cell" and "hepatocyte differentiation" was performed on the topic, and the relevant articles published in the past ten years were reviewed.


Hepatocyte-like cells differentiated from MSCs are a promising cell source for liver regeneration or tissue engineering. Although it is still a matter of debate as to whether MSC-derived hepatocytes may efficiently repopulate a host liver to provide adequate functional substitution, the majority of animal studies support that MSCs can become key players in liver-directed regenerative medicine. However the clinical application of human stem cells in the treatment of liver diseases is still in its infancy.


Future studies are required to improve the efficacy and consistency of hepatic differentiation from MSCs. It is necessary to better understand the mechanism to achieve transdifferentiation with high efficiency. More clinical trials are warranted to prove their efficacy in the management of patients with liver failure.

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