, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 162-170
Date: 20 Sep 2013

In vitro hepatic differentiation of human endometrial stromal stem cells

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Human endometrial stromal stem cells (hESSCs) can differentiate into mesodermal and ectodermal cellular lineages in the endometrium. However, whether hESSCs can differentiate into functional hepatic-like cells is unknown. In this study, we developed a multiple-step induction protocol to differentiate hESSCs into functional hepatic-like cells in vitro. Endometrial stromal cells were isolated by magnetic affinity sorting using anti-epithelial cell adhesion molecule-coated Dynabeads. The enriched hESSCs were analyzed by flow cytometry and were able to differentiate into osteoblasts or adipocytes under proper induction media. To differentiate into hepatic-like cells, hESSCs were cultured in a stepwise system containing hepatocyte growth factor, fibroblast growth factor-4, oncostatin M, and trichostatin A for a total of 24 d. The hepatic-like cell differentiation was analyzed by confocal microscopy and immunocytochemical staining. Glycogen storage, cellular urea synthesis, and ammonia concentrations were measured. Hepatic-like cells were successfully generated from hESSCs and were identified by their epithelial-like shape characteristics and expression of specific biomarkers albumin and cytokeratin 8 accompanied with a reduction of alpha-fetoprotein and alpha-smooth muscle actin expression. The hepatic-like cells generated were functional as evidenced by urea synthesis and glycogen storage. Our study demonstrated that hESSCs were able to differentiate into hepatic-like cells in vitro. Thus, endometrial stromal cells may be used as an easily accessible alternative source of stem cells for potential therapeutic applications in liver disease.

Editor: T. Okamoto
Xin-yuan Yang and Wei Wang contributed equally to this work.