Two populations of Thy1-positive mesenchymal cells regulate in vitro maturation of hepatic progenitor cells

Dept of Surgery, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto Univ, Shogoin, Kyoto, Japan.
AJP Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology (Impact Factor: 3.8). 03/2007; 292(2):G526-34. DOI: 10.1152/ajpgi.00241.2006
Source: PubMed


We previously reported that the in vitro maturation of CD49f(+)Thy1(-)CD45(-) (CD49f positive) fetal hepatic progenitor cells (HPCs) is supported by Thy1-positive mesenchymal cells derived from the fetal liver. These mesenchymal cell preparations contain two populations, one of a cuboidal shape and the other spindle shaped in morphology. In this study, we determined that the mucin-type transmembrane glycoprotein gp38 could distinguish cuboidal cells from spindle cells by immunocytochemistry. RT-PCR analysis revealed differences between isolated CD49f(+/-)Thy1(+)gp38(+)CD45(-) (gp38 positive) cells and CD49f(+/-)Thy1(+)gp38(-)CD45(-) (gp38 negative) cells, whereas both cells expressed mesenchymal cell markers. The coculture with gp38-positive cells promoted the maturation of CD49f-positive HPCs, which was estimated by positivity for periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) staining, whereas the coculture with gp38-negative cells maintained CD49f-positive HPCs negative for PAS staining. The expression of mature hepatocyte markers, such as tyrosine aminotransferase, tryptophan-2,3-dioxygenase, and glucose-6-phosphatase, were upregulated on HPCs by coculture with gp38-positive cells. Furthermore, transmission electron microscopy revealed the acquisition of mature hepatocyte features by HPCs cocultured with gp38-positive cells. This effect on maturation of HPCs was inhibited by the addition of conditioned medium derived from gp38-negative cells. By contrast, the upregulation of bromodeoxyuridine incorporation by HPCs demonstrated the proliferative effect of coculture with gp38-negative cells. In conclusion, these results suggest that in vitro maturation of HPCs promoted by gp38-positive cells may be opposed by an inhibitory effect of gp38-negative cells, which likely maintain the immature, proliferative state of HPCs.

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    • "On the other hand, Wnt5a, 5b, 7a, which were expressed preferentially in the gp38-positive HPCs, had no obvious effect on their proliferation or the gene expression of the gp38-positive HPCs (data not shown). Our previous study revealed that the CD49f+CD45−Thy1+gp38− mesenchymal cells derived from the fetal murine livers accelerated the cell proliferation of the HPCs by production of some humoral factors (Kamo et al. 2007). This suggests that some soluble stimulators secreted by these mesenchymal cells were necessary to maintain the undifferentiated state of HPCs. "
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    ABSTRACT: Previously, we clarified the surface antigen profiles of hepatic progenitor cells (HPCs) in fetal liver tissue as the CD49f(+)CD45(-)Thy1(-) cell fraction. However, these cells were a heterogeneous cell population containing various stages of differentiation. This study aimed to detect more immature HPCs, using a novel surface antigen, gp38. After the collagenase digestion of fetal livers harvested from E13.5 to E18.5 fetal mice, HPCs were obtained and divided into two subpopulations using flow cytometry: gp38-positive HPCs, and gp38-negative HPCs. Both types of HPCs were characterized by immunocytochemistry and RT-PCR. The proliferative activity was compared by BrdU incorporation and 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTS) assay. Furthermore, the comprehensive gene expression was investigated by DNA microarray. Both types of HPCs expressed alpha-fetoprotein. However, the gp38-positive HPCs derived from E13.5 fetal livers did not express albumin or cytokeratin 19, while the gp38-negative HPCs did. DNA microarray revealed that some genes related to the Wnt signal pathway were up-regulated in the gp38-positive HPCs. Furthermore, Wnt3a had a proliferative effect on the gp38-positive HPCs. In conclusion, the gp38-positive HPCs derived from fetal liver tissue until E13.5 could therefore be candidates for hepatic stem cells in the fetal liver.
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    ABSTRACT: Thy-1, a marker of hematopoietic stem cells, has been reported to be expressed by oval cells proliferating during stem cell-mediated regeneration in rat liver, suggesting a relationship between the two cell populations. Consequently, Thy-1 has become an accepted cell surface marker to sort hepatic oval cells. In the present study we used the well-characterized 2-acetylaminfluorene/partial hepatectomy model to induce transit-amplification of hepatic oval cells in the regenerating liver and characterized Thy-1 expression using Northern hybridization, quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction analysis, immunofluorescence confocal microscopy, and immunoelectronmicroscopy. We found that Thy-1 expression was induced during transit-amplification of the oval cell population, but Thy-1 mRNA was not present in the alpha-fetoprotein-expressing oval cells. Thy-1 protein was consistently present outside the basement membrane surrounding the oval cells. It overlapped frequently with smooth muscle actin staining. A similar cellular localization of the Thy-1 protein was found on human liver specimens with ductular reactions obtained from patients with fulminant liver failure. Furthermore, Thy-1 was expressed by myofibroblasts in experimental liver fibrosis models without oval cell proliferation. We conclude that Thy-1 is not a marker of oval cells but is present on a subpopulation of myofibroblasts/stellate cells.
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    ABSTRACT: The worldwide shortage of donor livers to transplant end stage liver disease patients has prompted the search for alternative cell therapies for intractable liver disease. Embryonic stem cells can be readily differentiated into hepatocytes, and their transplantation into animals has improved liver function in the absence of teratoma formation: their use in bioartificial liver support is an obvious application. In animal models of liver disease, adopting strategies to provide a selective advantage for transplanted foetal or adult hepatocytes have proved highly effective in repopulating recipient livers, but the poor success of today's hepatocyte transplants can be attributed to the lack of a clinically applicable procedure to force a similar repopulation of the human liver. The activation of bipotential hepatic progenitor cells is clearly vital for survival in many cases of acute liver failure, but surprisingly little progress has been made with these cells in terms of transplantation. Finally there is the controversial subject of autologous bone marrow, and while the contribution of these indigenous cells to liver turnover seems at best, trivial, results from a small number of phase 1 studies of transplantation of bone marrow to cirrhotic patients have been moderately encouraging.
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