, Volume 47, Issue 9, pp 601-608
Date: 22 Sep 2011

Human amniotic fluid-derived stem cells can differentiate into hepatocyte-like cells in vitro and in vivo

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Although human amniotic fluid is an attractive source of multipotent stem cells, the potential of amniotic fluid stem cells (AFSCs) to differentiate into hepatic cells has not been extensively evaluated. In this study, we examined whether human AFSCs can differentiate into a hepatic cell lineage in vitro and in vivo. After being treated with cytokines (fibroblast growth factor 4, basic fibroblast growth factor, hepatocyte growth factor, and oncostatin), AFSCs developed a morphology similar to that of hepatocytes. RT-PCR and immunofluorescence analysis showed that the treated AFSCs expressed the hepatocyte-specific markers albumin, cytokeratin 18, and alpha-fetoprotein. The differentiated cells also developed hepatocyte-specific functions, i.e., they secreted albumin, absorbed indocyanine green, and stored glycogen. When transplanted into CCl4-injured immunodeficient mice, undifferentiated AFSCs were integrated into the liver tissue, and they expressed markers characteristic of mature human hepatocytes. Although integration of AFSCs into the liver was limited (0.1–0.3% of hepatocytes), histological analysis showed that the recipient mice recovered more rapidly from CCl4 injury than CCl4-injured mice that did not receive AFSCs. AFSCs can differentiate into hepatocyte-like cells in vitro and in vivo and can represent an easily accessible source of progenitor cells for hepatocyte regeneration and liver cell transplantation.

Editor: T. Okamoto