The current application for many potential cell-based treatments for liver failure is limited by the low availability of mature functional hepatocytes. Although adult hepatocytes have a remarkable ability to proliferate in vivo, attempts to proliferate adult hepatocytes in vitro have been less successful. In this study, we investigated the effect of coculture cell type on the proliferative response and the functional activities of hepatocytes. We show, for the first time, a robust proliferative response of primary adult rat hepatocytes when cocultured with mouse 3T3-J2 fibroblasts. Hepatocytes cultured at low density on growth-arrested 3T3-J2 fibroblast feeder layers underwent significantly higher proliferation rates than when cultured on feeder layers made of four other cell types. Increasing colony size correlated with an increase in hepatocellular functions. The proliferating hepatocytes retained their morphologic, phenotypic, and functional characteristics. Using a cell patterning technique, we found that 3T3-J2 fibroblasts stimulate DNA synthesis in hepatocytes by short-range heterotypic cell–cell interactions. When hepatocytes that proliferated in cocultures were harvested and further subcultured either on 3T3-J2 fibroblast feeders or in the collagen sandwich configuration, their behavior was similar to that of freshly isolated hepatocytes. We conclude that adult rat hepatocytes can proliferate in vitro in a coculture cell type-dependent manner, and can be serially propagated by coculturing with 3T3-J2 fibroblasts while maintaining their differentiated characteristics. Our results also suggest that one of the major reasons for the functional differences in hepatocyte cocultures may be due to the different proliferative responses of hepatocytes as a function of coculture cell type. This study provides new insights in the roles of coculture cell types and cell–cell interactions in the modulation of hepatic proliferation and function.
hepatocyte proliferation; coculture; DNA synthesis; cell patterning; subculture
The transplantation of human bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) is a novel immunotherapeutic approach that is currently being explored in many clinical settings. Evidence suggests that the efficacy of cell transplantation is directly associated with soluble factors released by human BMSCs. In order to harness these secreted factors, we integrated BMSCs into large-scale hollow-fiber bioreactor devices in which the cells (separated by a semipermeable polyethersulfone (PES) membrane) can directly and continuously release therapeutic factors into the blood stream. BMSCs were found to be rapidly adherent and exhibited long-term viability on PES fibers. The cells also preserved their immunophenotype under physiologic fluid flow rates in the bioreactor, and exhibited no signs of differentiation during device operation, but still retained the capacity to differentiate into osteoblastic lineages. BMSC devices released growth factors and cytokines at comparable levels on a per cell basis to conventional cell culture platforms. Finally, we utilized a potency assay to demonstrate the therapeutic potential of the collected secreted factors from the BMSC devices. In summary, we have shown that culturing BMSCs in a large-scale hollow fiber bioreactor is feasible without deleterious effects on phenotype, thus providing a platform for collecting and delivering the paracrine secretions of these cells.
Mesenchymal Stem Cell; Dialysis; Acute Kidney Failure
Acute kidney injury is a devastating syndrome that afflicts over 2,000,000 people in the US per year, with an associated mortality of greater than 70% in severe cases. Unfortunately, standard-of-care treatments are not sufficient for modifying the course of disease. Many groups have explored the use of bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) for the treatment of AKI because BMSCs have been shown to possess unique anti-inflammatory, cytoprotective, and regenerative properties in vitro and in vivo. It is yet unresolved whether the primary mechanisms controlling BMSC therapy in AKI depend on direct cell infusion, or whether BMSC-secreted factors alone are sufficient for mitigating the injury. Here we show that BMSC-secreted factors are capable of providing a survival benefit to rats subjected to cisplatin-induced AKI. We observed that when BMSC-conditioned medium (BMSC-CM) is administered intravenously, it prevents tubular apoptosis and necrosis and ameliorates AKI. In addition, we observed that BMSC-CM causes IL-10 upregulation in treated animals, which is important to animal survival and protection of the kidney. In all, these results demonstrate that BMSC-secreted factors are capable of providing support without cell transplantation, and the IL-10 increase seen in BMSC-CM-treated animals correlates with attenuation of severe AKI.
Fulminant hepatic failure (FHF) is a serious clinical condition that is associated with high mortality. There is evidence that FHF is an inflammatory disease, which is supported clinically by elevated serum levels of cytokines. In an effort to develop hepatocytes with additional functions for use in our bioartificial liver (BAL) device, we focused on interleukin-1 (IL-1) blockade as a therapeutic modality. Primary porcine hepatocytes were isolated from the livers of miniature swine and then transfected with an adenoviral vector encoding human interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (AdIL-1Ra). The transfected hepatocytes secreted human IL-1Ra. These transfected hepatocytes were incorporated into a flat-plate BAL device to evaluate their efficacy in treating D-galactosamine (GalN)-induced FHF in a rat model. After extracorporeal perfusion with the BAL device containing the transfected hepatocytes, there were significant reductions in the plasma levels of hepatic enzymes (aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase) and cytokines (IL-1 and IL-6), indicating a beneficial effect. Animal survival was significantly improved in the treated group compared to the control group. These experiments demonstrate that combining inflammatory cytokine blockade with a functional BAL device may be an effective therapeutic option in the treatment of FHF.
Liver transplantation is the treatment of choice for many patients with fulminant hepatic failure (FHF). A major limitation of this treatment is the lack of available donors. An optimally functioning bio-artificial liver (BAL) device has the potential to provide critical hepatic support to patients with FHF. In this study, we examined the efficacy of combining interleukin-1 (IL-1) receptor blockade with the synthetic function of hepatocytes in a BAL device for the treatment of FHF.
Materials and methods
We injected an adenoviral vector encoding human IL-1 receptor antagonist (AdIL-1Ra) into the liver of D-galactosamine (GalN) intoxicated rats via the portal vein. We also transfected primary rat hepatocytes and reversibly immortalized human hepatocytes (TTNT cells) with AdIL-1Ra, and incorporated these transfected hepatocytes into our flat-plate BAL device and evaluated their efficacy in our GalN-induced FHF rat model after 10 h of extracorporeal perfusion.
Rats injected with AdIL-1Ra showed significant reductions in the plasma levels of hepatic enzymes. Primary rat hepatocytes transfected with AdIL-1Ra secreted IL-1Ra without losing their original synthetic function. Incorporating these cells into the BAL device and testing in a GalN-induced FHF rat model resulted in significant reductions in plasma IL-6 levels and significantly improved animal survival. Incorporating the AdIL-1Ra transfected TTNT cells in the BAL device and testing in the GalN-induced FHF rat model resulted in significantly reduced plasma IL-6 levels, and a trend toward improved survival was seen.
Hepatocytes producing IL-1Ra are a promising cell source for BAL devices in the treatment of GalN-induced FHF.
fulminant hepatic failure; primary rat hepatocytes; immortalized human hepatocytes; interleukin-1 receptor antagonist; bio-artificial liver device
The current state of the art for linear optimization in Flux Balance Analysis has been limited to single objective functions. Since mammalian systems perform various functions, a multiobjective approach is needed when seeking optimal flux distributions in these systems. In most of the available multiobjective optimization methods, there is a lack of understanding of when to use a particular objective, and how to combine and/or prioritize mutually competing objectives to achieve a truly optimal solution. To address these limitations we developed a soft constraints based linear physical programming-based flux balance analysis (LPPFBA) framework to obtain a multiobjective optimal solutions. The developed framework was first applied to compute a set of multiobjective optimal solutions for various pairs of objectives relevant to hepatocyte function (urea secretion, albumin, NADPH, and glutathione syntheses) in bioartificial liver systems. Next, simultaneous analysis of the optimal solutions for three objectives was carried out. Further, this framework was utilized to obtain true optimal conditions to improve the hepatic functions in a simulated bioartificial liver system. The combined quantitative and visualization framework of LPPFBA is applicable to any large-scale metabolic network system, including those derived by genomic analyses.
Bioartificial Liver; Hepatocytes/Linear Physical Programming; Metabolic Networks; Multiobjective Optimization; Pareto Optimality
Microfabrication and micropatterning techniques in tissue engineering offer great potential for creating and controlling microenvironments in which cell behavior can be observed. Here we present a novel approach to generate layered patterning of hepatocytes on micropatterned fibroblast feeder layers using microfabricated polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) stencils. We fabricated PDMS stencils to pattern circular holes with diameters of 500 µm. Hepatocytes were co-cultured with 3T3-J2 fibroblasts in two types of patterns to evaluate and characterize the cellular interactions in the co-culture systems. Results of this study demonstrated uniform intracellular albumin staining and E-cadherin expression, increased liver-specific functions, and active glycogen synthesis in the hepatocytes when the heterotypic interface between hepatocytes and fibroblasts was increased by the layered patterning technique. This patterning technique can be a useful experimental tool for applications in basic science, drug screening, and tissue engineering, as well as in the design of bioartificial liver devices.
hepatocytes; co-culture; layered cell patterning; cellular interactions; fibroblasts
Endothelial cells represent an important barrier between the intravascular compartment and extravascular tissues, and therefore serve as key sensors, communicators, and amplifiers of danger signals in innate immunity and inflammation. Double stranded DNA (dsDNA) released from damaged host cells during injury or introduced by pathogens during infection, has emerged as a potent danger signal. While the dsDNA-mediated immune response has been extensively studied in immune cells, little is known about the direct and indirect effects of dsDNA on the vascular endothelium. In this study we show that direct dsDNA stimulation of endothelial cells induces a potent proinflammatory response as demonstrated by increased expression of ICAM1, E-selectin and VCAM1, and enhanced leukocyte adhesion. This response was dependent on the stress kinases JNK and p38 MAPK, required the activation of proinflammatory transcription factors NFκB and IRF3, and triggered the robust secretion of TNFα for sustained secondary activation of the endothelium. DNA-induced TNFα secretion proved to be essential in vivo, as mice deficient in the TNF receptor were unable to mount an acute inflammatory response to dsDNA. Our findings suggest that the endothelium plays an active role in mediating dsDNA-induced inflammatory responses, and implicate its importance in establishing an acute inflammatory response to sterile injury or systemic infection, where host or pathogen derived dsDNA may serve as a danger signal.
Cell-based technologies to support/restore organ function represent one of the most promising avenues in the treatment of acute liver failure (ALF). Recently, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been reported as a new therapeutic for inflammatory conditions. Here, we demonstrate the efficacy of MSCs, when cocultured with hepatocytes, to provide combination hepatic and antiinflammatory therapy in the setting of ALF. MSCs were shown to have multiple beneficial effects in vitro that were relevant in a therapeutic context, including (1) hepatocellular functional support, (2) secretion of molecules that inhibit hepatocyte apoptosis, and (3) modulation of an acute phase response by hepatocytes cultured in ALF-induced serum. In addition, we show that the MSC secretome is dynamically changed in response to serum exposure from ALF rats. We then conducted a therapeutic trial of liver assist devices (LADs). LADs containing cocultures of MSCs and hepatocytes provided a greater survival benefit compared to other coculture and monocellular control LADs. Treatment with MSC-hepatocyte devices was associated with specific improvements in hepatic functional and histological parameters as well as decreasing inflammatory serum cytokine levels, validating a combined therapeutic effect. Moreover, MSC coculture reduced the overall cell mass of the device by an order of magnitude. These findings demonstrate the importance of nonparenchymal cells in the cellular composition of LADs, and strongly support the integration of MSCs into hepatocyte-coculture-based LADs as a potential destination therapy for ALF.
Bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) suppress immune cell responses and have beneficial effects in various inflammatory-related immune disorders. A therapeutic modality for systemic inflammation and its consequences is not available yet. Thus, this work investigates the therapeutic effects of MSCs in injury-models induced by Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or burn. Gene expression was analyzed in MSCs when exposed to inflammatory serum from injured animals and it showed remarkable alterations compared to normal culture. In addition, injured animals were transplanted intramuscularly with MSCs. Forty eight hours after cell transplantation, kidney, lung, and liver were analyzed for infiltration of inflammatory cells and TUNEL expressing cells. Results showed that MSCs attenuate injury by reducing the infiltration of inflammatory cells in various target organs and by reducing cell death. These data suggest that MSCs emerge as key regulators of immune/inflammatory responses in vivo and as attractive candidates for cell-based treatments for systemic inflammatory-based disorders.
anti-inflammation; anti-apoptosis; sepsis; burn; lipopolysaccharide (LPS); systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS); and multiple organ injury
Embryonic stem cell-derived endoderm is critical for the development of cellular therapies for the treatment of disease such as diabetes, liver cirrhosis, or pulmonary emphysema. Here, we describe a novel approach to induce endoderm from mouse embryonic stem cells (mES) using fibronectin-coated collagen gels. This technique results in a homogenous endoderm-like cell population, demonstrating endoderm-specific gene and protein expression, which remains committed following in vivo transplantation. In this system, activin, normally an endoderm inducer caused an 80% decrease in the Foxa2 positive endoderm fraction, while follistatin increased the Foxa2 positive endoderm fraction to 78%. Our work suggests that activin delays the induction of endoderm through it transient precursors, the epiblast and mesendoderm. Long term differentiation, displays a two-fold reduction in hepatic gene expression and three-fold reduction in hepatic protein expression of activin-treated cells compared to follistatin-treated cells. Moreover, subcutaneous transplantation of activin-treated cells in a syngeneic mouse generated a heterogeneous teratoma-like mass, suggesting these were a more primitive population. In contrast, follistatin-treated cells resulted in an encapsulated epithelial-like mass, suggesting these cells remained committed to the endoderm lineage. In conclusion, we demonstrate a novel technique to induce the direct differentiation of endoderm from mES cells without cell sorting. In addition, our work suggests a new role for activin in induction of the precursors to endoderm, and a new endoderm-enrichment technique using follistatin.
Activin; Endoderm; Collagen Gel; Embryonic Stem Cells (Mouse); Follistatin; Epiblast
Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been reported to prevent the development of liver fibrosis in a number of pre-clinical studies. Marked changes in liver histopathology and serological markers of liver function have been observed without a clear understanding of the therapeutic mechanism by which stem cells act. We sought to determine if MSCs could modulate the activity of resident liver cells, specifically hepatic stellate cells (SCs) by paracrine mechanisms using indirect cocultures. Indirect coculture of MSCs and activated SCs led to a significant decrease in collagen deposition and proliferation, while inducing apoptosis of activated SCs. The molecular mechanisms underlying the modulation of SC activity by MSCs were examined. IL-6 secretion from activated SCs induced IL-10 secretion from MSCs, suggesting a dynamic response of MSCs to the SCs in the microenvironment. Blockade of MSC-derived IL-10 and TNF-α abolished the inhibitory effects of MSCs on SC proliferation and collagen synthesis. In addition, release of HGF by MSCs was responsible for the marked induction of apoptosis in SCs as determined by antibody-neutralization studies. These findings demonstrate that MSCs can modulate the function of activated SCs via paracrine mechanisms provide a plausible explanation for the protective role of MSCs in liver inflammation and fibrosis, which may also be relevant to other models of tissue fibrosis.
stem cell; fibrosis; immunomodulation; liver injury
Modulation of the immune system may be a viable alternative in the treatment of fulminant hepatic failure (FHF) and can potentially eliminate the need for donor hepatocytes for cellular therapies. Multipotent bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been shown to inhibit the function of various immune cells by undefined paracrine mediators in vitro. Yet, the therapeutic potential of MSC-derived molecules has not been tested in immunological conditions in vivo. Herein, we report that the administration of MSC-derived molecules in two clinically relevant forms-intravenous bolus of conditioned medium (MSC-CM) or extracorporeal perfusion with a bioreactor containing MSCs (MSC-EB)-can provide a significant survival benefit in rats undergoing FHF. We observed a cell mass-dependent reduction in mortality that was abolished at high cell numbers indicating a therapeutic window. Histopathological analysis of liver tissue after MSC-CM treatment showed dramatic reduction of panlobular leukocytic infiltrates, hepatocellular death and bile duct duplication. Furthermore, we demonstrate using computed tomography of adoptively transferred leukocytes that MSC-CM functionally diverts immune cells from the injured organ indicating that altered leukocyte migration by MSC-CM therapy may account for the absence of immune cells in liver tissue. Preliminary analysis of the MSC secretome using a protein array screen revealed a large fraction of chemotactic cytokines, or chemokines. When MSC-CM was fractionated based on heparin binding affinity, a known ligand for all chemokines, only the heparin-bound eluent reversed FHF indicating that the active components of MSC-CM reside in this fraction. These data provide the first experimental evidence of the medicinal use of MSC-derived molecules in the treatment of an inflammatory condition and support the role of chemokines and altered leukocyte migration as a novel therapeutic modality for FHF.