NeoHybrid liver graft – proof of concept

Cells Tissues Organs accepted our latest paper on "Allogeneic liver transplantation and subsequent syngeneic hepatocyte transplantation in a rat model – proof of concept for in vivo tissue engineering" for publication.
Authors are Susanne Rohn, Jan Schroeder, Henriette Riedel, Dietrich Polenz, Katarina Stanko, Anja Reutzel-Selke, Peter Tang, Lydia Brusendorf, Nathanael Raschzok, Peter Neuhaus, Johann Pratschke, Birgit Sawitzki, Igor M. Sauer, and Martina T. Mogl.

Aim of the project was the evaluation of a new concept for in vivo tissue engineering using autologous primary human hepatocytes and hepatic progenitor cells isolated from diseased livers explanted during orthotopic liver transplantation (LTx). Cells will be isolated and infused into the spleen for repopulation of the allogeneic liver graft. The latter is serving as biological matrix for the engraftment of autologous cells. Once these cells have engrafted, it is assumed that autologous cells will repopulate the allogeneic liver, since they should have a selective advantage due to their autologous origin. It is postulated that this will lead to a neo-hybrid liver graft, reducing immunogenicity and inducing immunoregulation thus minimizing the need for extensive immunosuppression and eventually inducing operational tolerance.
We therefore developed a new rat model for combined liver and liver cell transplantation under stable immunosuppression. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated the engraftment of transplanted cells, as confirmed by fluorescence in-situ hybridization, showing repopulation of the liver graft with 15.6 % male cells (± 1.8 SEM) at day 90. The quantitative PCR revealed 14.15 % (mean ± 5.09 SEM) male DNA at day 90. Engraftment of transplanted autologous cells after combined liver and cell transplantation was achieved for up to 90 days under immunosuppression. Immunohistochemistry indicated cell proliferation, and the fluorescence in-situ hybridization results were partly confirmed by quantitative RT-PCR. This new protocol in rats appears feasible to address long-term function and eventually induction of operational tolerance in the future.

Human hepatocyte isolation – new paper

Tissue Engineering, Part C: Methods accepted our paper „Human hepatocyte isolation: Does portal vein embolization affect the outcome?“ Authors are Martin Kluge, Anja Reutzel-Selke, Hendrik Napierala, Karl H. Hillebrandt, Rebeka D. Major, Benjamin Struecker, Annekatrin Leder, Jeffrey Siefert, Peter Tang, Steffen Lippert, Daniel Seehofer, Johann Pratschke, Igor M. Sauer und Nathanael Raschzok.

Primary human hepatocytes are widely used for basic research, pharmaceutical testing, and therapeutic concepts in regenerative medicine. Human hepatocytes can be isolated from resected liver tissue. Preoperative portal vein embolization (PVE) is increasingly used to decrease the risk of delayed postoperative liver regeneration by induction of selective hypertrophy of the future remnant liver tissue. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of PVE on the outcome of hepatocyte isolation. Primary human hepatocytes were isolated from liver tissue obtained from partial hepatectomies (n=190) using the two-step collagenase perfusion technique followed by Percoll purification. Of these hepatectomies, 27 isolations (14.2%) were performed using liver tissue obtained from patients undergoing PVE prior to surgery. All isolations were characterized using parameters that had been described in the literature as relevant for the outcome of hepatocyte isolation. The PVE and non-PVE groups were similar in regard to donor parameters (sex, age, indication for surgery), isolation parameters (liver weight, cold ischemic time), and the quality of the liver tissue. The mean initial viable cell yield did not differ between the PVE and non-PVE groups (10.16±2.03x106 cells/g vs. 9.70±0.73 x106 cells/g, p=0.499). The initial viability was slightly better in the PVE-group (77.8 ±2.03% vs. 74.4 ±1.06%). The mean viable cell yield (p=0.819) and the mean viability (p=0.141) after Percoll purification did not differ between the groups. PVE had no effect on enzyme leakage and metabolic activity of cultured hepatocytes.
Although PVE leads to drastic metabolic alterations and changes in hepatic blood flow, embolized liver tissue is a suitable source for the isolation of primary human hepatocytes and is equivalent to untreated liver tissue in regard to cell yield and viability.

Isolation of primary human hepatocytes

Haluk Morgül and Nathanael Raschzok published their first results on "Tracking of primary human hepatocytes with clinical MRI: Initial results with Tat-peptide modified superparamagnetic iron oxide particles." in the March issue of IJAO (Int J Artif Organs 2008, 31:252-257): The transplantation of primary human hepatocytes is a promising approach in the treatment of specific liver diseases. However, little is known about the fate of the cells following application. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could enable real-time tracking and long-term detection of transplanted hepatocytes. The use of superparamagnetic iron oxide particles as cellular contrast agents should allow for the non-invasive detection of labelled cells on high-resolution magnetic resonance images. Experiments were performed on primary human hepatocytes to transfer the method of detecting labelled cells via clinical MRI into human hepatocyte transplantation. For labelling, Tat-peptide modified nano-sized superparamagnetic MagForce particles were used. Cells were investigated via a clinical MR scanner at 3.0 Tesla and the particle uptake within single hepatocytes was estimated using microscopic examinations. The labelled primary human hepatocytes were clearly detectable by MRI, proving the feasibility of this new concept. Therefore, this method is a useful tool to investigate the effects of human hepatocyte transplantation and to improve safety aspects of this method.