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Hepatology. 1994 Apr;19(4):999-1006.

Characterization and enrichment of fetal rat hepatoblasts by immunoadsorption ("panning") and fluorescence-activated cell sorting.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York 10461.


We developed methods for enriching fetal hepatoblasts by combining panning and multiparametric fluorescence-activated cell sorting. In unpurified, dissociated fetal liver cell suspensions of embryonic age day 15, 3.2% +/- 1.3% and 2.5% +/- 0.7% cells expressed albumin and alpha-fetoprotein, respectively. The remainder exhibited a hemopoietic, endothelial or stromal cell phenotype. Cells were panned first with an antibody to red blood cells to remove erythroid cells and then with monoclonal antibodies OX-43/OX-44 to remove hemopoietic and endothelial cells. This procedure eliminated 84% of fetal hepatic cells, with enrichment of the remainder for albumin or alpha-fetoprotein expression (up to sixfold increase). Flow cytometric analysis of unlabeled cells revealed two populations, which differed in granularity and autofluorescence. After panning, fluorescence-activated cell sorting for agranular cells yielded OX-43/44-positive cells that were essentially all hemopoietic precursor cells or OX-43/44-negative cells that were mostly hemopoietic precursor cells, along with 3.0% +/- 0.7% alpha-fetoprotein-positive cells. In contrast, sorting for granular, OX-43/44-negative cells enriched for predominantly alpha-fetoprotein-positive, parenchymal precursor cells (75.1% +/- 4.7%). Multiparametric flow cytometric analysis of the expression of an oval cell antigen, OC.3, which is a bile duct and putative liver stem cell marker, showed that most OC.3-positive cells coexpressed OX-43/OX-44 and morphologically were hemopoietic precursor cells. However, approximately 30% of the OX-43/44-negative, granular cells expressed OC.3. Although the physiological significance of OC.3-positive hepatoblasts remains to be determined, the ability to isolate distinct liver cell populations by means of fluorescence-activated cell sorting should facilitate further studies.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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