1. State Key Laboratory for Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases, Collaborative Innovation Center for Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases, The First Affiliated Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University. 79 Qingchun Rd., Hangzhou, 310003. China.
2. Department of Surgery, The First Affiliated Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University. 79 Qingchun Rd., Hangzhou, 310003. China.
3. Department of Pathology, The First Affiliated Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University. 79 Qingchun Rd., Hangzhou, China. 310003
Objective: To clarify the precise characteristics of human hepatic progenitor cells (HPCs) for future cytotherapy in liver diseases.
Methods: Hepatic progenitor-like cells were isolated and cultured from the livers of patients who had undergone partial hepatectomy for various pathologies but displayed no sign of hepatic dysfunction. These cells were characterized by transcriptomic profiling, quantitative real-time PCR and immunocyto/histochemistry.
Results: Cultured HPCs contained polygonal, high nucleus/cytoplasm ratio and exhibited a global gene expression profile similar (67.8%) to that of primary hepatocytes. Among the genes with more than 20-fold higher expression in HPCs were a progenitor marker (CD90), a pentraxin-related gene (PTX3), collagen proteins (COL5A2, COL1A1 and COL4A2), cytokines (EGF and PDGFD), metabolic enzymes (CYBRD1, BCAT1, TIMP2 and PAM), a secreted protein (SPARC) and an endothelial protein C receptor (PROCR). Moreover, eight markers (ALB, AFP, CK8, CK18, CK19, CD90, CD117 and Oval-6) previously described as HPC markers were validated by qRT-PCR and/or immunocyto/histochemistry. Interestingly, human HPCs were also positive for the hematopoietic cell markers CD45 and CD109. Finally, we characterized the localization of HPCs in the canals of Hering and periportal areas with six previously described markers (Oval-6, CK8, CK18, CK19, CD90 and CD117) and two potential markers (CD45 and CD109).
Conclusion: The human HPCs are highly similar to primary hepatocytes in their transcriptional profiles. The CD45 and CD109 markers could potentially be utilized to identify and isolate HPCs for further cytotherapy of liver diseases.
Keywords: Human hepatic progenitor cell, Immunocytochemistry, Transcriptional profile