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Cell Transplant. 2014 Jan;23(1):27-38. doi: 10.3727/096368912X662453. Epub 2013 Feb 4.

Increased reprogramming of human fetal hepatocytes compared with adult hepatocytes in feeder-free conditions.

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Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


Hepatocyte transplantation has been used to treat liver disease. The availability of cells for these procedures is quite limited. Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) may be a useful source of hepatocytes for basic research and transplantation if efficient and effective differentiation protocols were developed and problems with tumorigenicity could be overcome. Recent evidence suggests that the cell of origin may affect hiPSC differentiation. Thus, hiPSCs generated from hepatocytes may differentiate back to hepatocytes more efficiently than hiPSCs from other cell types. We examined the efficiency of reprogramming adult and fetal human hepatocytes. The present studies report the generation of 40 hiPSC lines from primary human hepatocytes under feeder-free conditions. Of these, 37 hiPSC lines were generated from fetal hepatocytes, 2 hiPSC lines from normal hepatocytes, and 1 hiPSC line from hepatocytes of a patient with Crigler-Najjar syndrome, type 1. All lines were confirmed reprogrammed and expressed markers of pluripotency by gene expression, flow cytometry, immunocytochemistry, and teratoma formation. Fetal hepatocytes were reprogrammed at a frequency over 50-fold higher than adult hepatocytes. Adult hepatocytes were only reprogrammed with six factors, while fetal hepatocytes could be reprogrammed with three (OCT4, SOX2, NANOG) or four factors (OCT4, SOX2, NANOG, LIN28 or OCT4, SOX2, KLF4, C-MYC). The increased reprogramming efficiency of fetal cells was not due to increased transduction efficiency or vector toxicity. These studies confirm that hiPSCs can be generated from adult and fetal hepatocytes including those with genetic diseases. Fetal hepatocytes reprogram much more efficiently than adult hepatocytes, although both could serve as useful sources of hiPSC-derived hepatocytes for basic research or transplantation.

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