Retinoid-storing hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) have recently been described as a liver-resident mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) population; however, it is not clear whether these cells contribute to liver regeneration or serve as a progenitor cell population with hepatobiliary characteristics. Here, we purified HSCs with retinoid-dependent fluorescence-activated cell sorting from eGFP-expressing rats and transplanted these GFP+ HSCs into wild-type (WT) rats that had undergone partial hepatectomy in the presence of 2-acetylaminofluorene (2AAF) or retrorsine, both of which are injury models that favor stem cell–based liver repair. Transplanted HSCs contributed to liver regeneration in host animals by forming mesenchymal tissue, progenitor cells, hepatocytes, and cholangiocytes and elevated direct bilirubin levels in blood sera of GUNN rats, indicating recovery from the hepatic bilirubin–handling defect in these animals. Transplanted HSCs engrafted within the bone marrow (BM) of host animals, and HSC-derived cells were isolated from BM and successfully retransplanted into new hosts with injured liver. Cultured HSCs transiently adopted an expression profile similar to that of progenitor cells during differentiation into bile acid–synthesizing and –transporting hepatocytes, suggesting that stellate cells represent a source of liver progenitor cells. This concept connects seemingly contradictory studies that favor either progenitor cells or MSCs as important players in stem cell–based liver regeneration.
Claus Kordes, Iris Sawitza, Silke Götze, Diran Herebian, Dieter Häussinger
This file is in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. If you have not installed and configured the Adobe Acrobat Reader on your system.
PDFs are designed to be printed out and read, but if you prefer to read them online, you may find it easier if you increase the view size to 125%.
Many versions of the free Acrobat Reader do not allow Save. You must instead save the PDF from the JCI Online page you downloaded it from. PC users: Right-click on the Download link and choose the option that says something like "Save Link As...". Mac users should hold the mouse button down on the link to get these same options.