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The generation of programmable cells of monocytic origin involves partial repression of monocyte/macrophage markers and reactivation of pluripotency genes.

Clinic for Applied Cellular Medicine, Department of Neurosurgery, Kiel, Germany.
Stem cells and development (Impact Factor: 4.15). 03/2010; 19(11):1769-80. DOI:10.1089/scd.2009.0351
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We have recently demonstrated that peripheral blood monocytes can be differentiated in vitro into hepatocyte-like cells using appropriate differentiation media. Phenotype conversion required prior in vitro culture in the presence of M-CSF, IL-3, and human serum, during which the cells acquired a state of plasticity, so were termed "programmable cells of monocytic origin" (PCMO). Here, we have further characterized the process of PCMO generation with respect to markers of monocyte-to-macrophage transition and pluripotency. During a 6-day culture period, various monocyte/macrophage differentiation markers were down-regulated being indicative of a process of partial dedifferentiation. Dedifferentiation and hepatic redifferentiation also proceeded in highly purified monocyte preparations, albeit with different kinetics, suggesting that the presence of nonmonocytes, or soluble factors derived from them, is not essential in order for monocytes to acquire a multipotent state. PCMOs expressed various markers of human embryonic stem cells with early induction of NANOG and OCT4. Expression of the pluripotency-associated OCT4A isoform was paralleled by a global rise in histone H3 methylation on Lys-4, a marker of active chromatin, and coincided with peak sensitivity to tissue-specific differentiation. These results show that peripheral blood monocytes can be induced in vitro to transiently acquire stem cell-like properties and concomitantly a state of increased differentiation potential toward the hepatocytic phenotype.

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