The promotion of hepatic maturation of human pluripotent stem cells in 3D co-culture using type I collagen and Swiss 3T3 cell sheets
Hepatocyte-like cells differentiated from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) or human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) are known to be a useful cell source for drug screening. We recently developed an efficient hepatic differentiation method from hESCs and hiPSCs by sequential transduction of FOXA2 and HNF1α. It is known that the combination of three-dimensional (3D) culture and co-culture, namely 3D co-culture, can maintain the functions of primary hepatocytes. However, hepatic maturation of hESC- or hiPSC-derived hepatocyte-like cells (hEHs or hiPHs, respectively) by 3D co-culture systems has not been examined. Therefore, we utilized a cell sheet engineering technology to promote hepatic maturation. The gene expression levels of hepatocyte-related markers (such as cytochrome P450 enzymes and conjugating enzymes) and the amount of albumin secretion in the hEHs or hiPHs, which were 3D co-cultured with the Swiss 3T3 cell sheet, were significantly up-regulated in comparison with those in the hEHs or hiPHs cultured in a monolayer. Furthermore, we found that type I collagen synthesized in Swiss 3T3 cells plays an important role in hepatic maturation. The hEHs or hiPHs that were 3D co-cultured with the Swiss 3T3 cell sheet would be powerful tools for medical applications, such as drug screening.
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